Saturday, September 20, 2008

TRH Movie - The Duchess

We had advance screening passes this week through work, so Zesty and I went to go see Keira Knightley in The Duchess. Based on Amanda Foreman's biography, The Duchess follows the life of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley). She was married at seventeen to the much older Duke (Ralph Fiennes) and the two were an unlikely match from the beginning. Played at first as a young woman enraptured by the idea of the man actually being in love with her, Georgiana soon realizes that marriage isn't quite as she imagined. After a period of difficulty (involving the birth of a male heir), her husband's mistress, Lady Elizabeth Foster (Hayley Atwell; who was once her best friend), Georgiana and the Duke form an awkward and terrifyingly strange trio. The triangle proves to be Georgiana's undoing. Of equal importance in the film's portrayal of her life was her politics -- both her support of the Whigs and her love affair with Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper).

Keira Knightley does surprisingly well as the Duchess, carrying off her more outrageous attributes to a tee, and has surprising emotional depth in the role. Audiences will surely despise Fiennes as the Duke, not for his acting, but for the nature of the part itself. The costumes are truly outstanding, the score to the film lovely, and on the whole, the picture was much better than I thought it would be after first watching the trailer.

It's also amazing to get lost in the history that surrounds all the pomp and circumstance of the two families. Georgiana, a Spencer, has infamous relatives (Princess Diana, as the press keeps reminding people) and Lady Caroline Lamb. And then with the Duke of Devonshire's peerage still in existence, it's consistently amazing to me how the ancestry of these families is passed down, traded up and titled. I can get lost in tracking it all. Clicking from one Wikipedia entry to the next filling my head with information that has absolutely no relevance to my everyday life.

Annnywaay, it's an okay film, a solid B, but I'd recommend waiting for it to come out on DVD rather than ponying up for theatre prices.

3 comments:

Kailana said...

Did you read the book that this was based on? I have been thinking about it, but haven't yet. I actually heard about the book just recently and only found it was going to be a movie today! I am out of the loop...

Historia said...

I have seen this book floating around the shelves. I think I'll wait for the movie.

Another book I have about the Spencer Family is called Improper Pursuits. Its about another Lady Diana Spencer (1735-1808) who was a painter. She was a cousin of John Spencer - the younger (1st Earl Spencer). He was Georgiana's father. Diana's father Charles Spencer (3rd Duke of Marlborough) was brother to John Spencer (the elder) - Georgiana's grandfather.

Chus said...

The Duchess: new film of Keira Knightley