The Duchess Review

Hello friends, thank you very much for checking out our Duchess review!

The General Idea

Plot Synopsis From IMDB: A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who reviled for her extravagant political and personal lives. She is a vibrant beauty and celebrity of her time. But she is trapped in an unhappy triangle with her husband and his live-in mistress. She falls passionately in love with an ambitious young politician, and the affair causes a bitter conflict with her husband and threatens to erupt into a scandal.

The Good

I am almost certain that this film will be nominated for oscars in art direction and costume design. A period piece needs the look to be appropriate, and they really did an outstanding job with this one. Georgina (Keira Knightley) has many, many different gowns and wigs in this film and all of them were a sight to behold.

Period pieces are like elaborate soap operas. They are not my cup of tea, but their are a few things that I look for that seem essential to the genre. At the top of the list is the quality of the scandal. This film was full of scandalous behavior by the Duchess herself, but more-so from her unassuming husband the Duke. This man is driven to have a man-child to the point where he’s filling every womb within earshot to ensure an heir.

This is a film where we basically follow the Duchess around throughout her life. I counted this as a positive, but can see how others may get annoyed with this. It worked for me because I felt for the character. I sympathized with her journey and started to wonder how anyone could properly react to the situations she was faced with. Getting the character to “hook you” is essential to this kind of film, and I thought it did so very well.

The Bad

This was a slow film at 110 minutes, which is no great surprise; period pieces usually run longer. I was “on board” the entire time, but the film was long and started to feel like it. For those that did not empathize with the Duchess I can see this being excruciatingly long.

When something is based on a true story, it adds a bit of naughtiness to the tale - because you know it really happened. What the story gains in novelty, it looses in freedom; you cannot take risks or deviate from the account in a way that makes it more enjoyable or exciting. You are bound by history and decency when you set out to retell it. Although I enjoyed this film, there was a sense that it could have been something even more had these shackles been loosed.


Once again, period pieces are not my forte’ so take my review with a grain of salt. Everything I expect from a film like this was there, the characters were great, the story was scandalous, I became emotionally attached to the main character and the art direction was magnificent. I consider this film to be an excellent representation of it style and give it an 8/10.

3 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Josh Brunsting

    Seeing that the film is full of scandalous happenings, I wish that they would have given it a sort of “Marie Antoinette” take on the character, in that it may have been a little faster paced, like that great film from Sofia Coppola. I love period pieces and the two leads are really intriguing. I’ve always sort of like Knightley, and Fiennes is one of the best actors we’ve got today, especially coming off In Bruges. I’ll definitley be giving this one a shot when it comes to Michigan.

  2. Darran

    Wow Doug, thats a great Review, Ive always liked a good period movie, and Keira Knightly always seems to pull them off well. So cheers for that looking forward to seeing it..

  3. Deborah

    I love your reviews. So unpretentious and straight to the point. I will be checking this film out because apparently Keira has a lesbian-esque scene. Those are always good.

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