Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Duchess. D+

Don't go into 'The Duchess' expecting a light tea-and-crumpets affair with gossiping, laughing, and ravishing romance. No, 'The Duchess' is nothing of the sort. It's a dark, dour, pretty depressing story about the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish (Keira Knightley, who must be setting some sort of record for appearing in costume dramas). Just as we are being introduced to Georgiana, she is almost sold into a marriage with the Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish, portrayed by Ralph Feinnes. We soon find out that the Duke is quite a monster, as he shows hardly any love or respect for his wife. All he cares about his getting a son and he'll stop at nothing to get one. 'The Duchess' is based off a true story, yet I found it hardly remarkable enough to warrant a major motion picture. It seemed like something that might be more suitable for a PBS special. Georgiana was apparently a bit of a celebrity to the people, loved for her wit, beauty, and charisma. Yet the film doesn't really give us that sense of awe over her. Despite Knightley's strong performance, we don't feel impressed in the least. And as for her personal life, well, it's disturbing and very forgettable. 'The Duchess' has nice sets, beautiful costumes, and strong performances, but it left me feeling empty and cold. It's a slow moving picture that felt incredibly small compared to Knightley's previous costume drama, 'Atonement.' Again, don't expect a light, breezy 'Pride and Prejudice' sort of movie here. This is a dark picture and I find it hard to recommend it to anyone.

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