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The Duchess
The Duchess
Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Simon McBurney, Charlotte Rampling, John Shrapnel, Dominic Cooper
Director: Saul Dibb
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
PG-13     2008     1hr 50min

Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 12/26/2008 Run time: 109 minutes Rating: Pg13

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Movie Details

Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Simon McBurney, Charlotte Rampling, John Shrapnel, Dominic Cooper
Director: Saul Dibb
Creators: Gyula Pados, Rachel Portman, Masahiro Hirakubo
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 12/27/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 50min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 7
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Nancy C. (nancee) from WACO, TX
Reviewed on 9/16/2014...
I loved the movie. Nothing like a good costume drama.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Reviewed on 5/25/2014...
Enjoyed the movie's gorgeous sets and costumes, wonderful acting, but the story (based on historical characters) is very tragic. If you need a good cry, this is a beautiful movie to bring it out!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Randal A. (Movieran) from SATELLITE BCH, FL
Reviewed on 2/6/2014...
A glimpse into the not so elegant side of the Titled Gentry. Excellent portrayal, magnificient costumes, lasting impressions. Keira captures the multitude of emotions that impinge upon her circumstances.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Nina E.
Reviewed on 7/4/2011...
Academy Award Nominee Keira Knightly marries Ralph Fiennes, The Duke of Devonshire. This arranged marriage is quickly betrayed by her husband and her only friend, the gorgeous, sexy Hayley Atwell. This is based on a true story. See how far they went...this compelling, lavish world filled with smouldering passion and heartbreaking deception. The Duchess of Devonshire is the "Empress of Fashion" an original "It Girl" of England. She was vivacious, heroic. She was The Duchess. Feisty, cool and scandalous. This is a great movie, it is scenic, great costumes, excellent acting. This has everything you want and desire in a glamorous "period piece"
9 of 9 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Lavish, Entertaining Period Drama
Terence Allen | Atlanta, GA USA | 11/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

""The Duchess" is a wonderful costume drama based on the life of Princess Diana's ancestor Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, who was celebrated and scandalous in her time, which was late 18th century England.

Georgiana was given in an arranged marriage to the Duke of Devonshire (a wonderful performance by Ralph Fiennes), who had only met her twice previously. The Duke is desperate for a male heir, and soon, Georgiana soon finds herself in a loveless marriage and the mother of three girls - two born of Georgiana and one born of a maid who had an affair with Devonshire. Even after bearing the indignities of her husband constant affairs, Georgiana becomes a darling of English society, known for her fashion sense, political activism, and love of gambling.

But Georgiana draws the line, or tries to draw the line, when Devonshire takes a live-in lover and her three children. She eventually begins an affair with a young politician that threatens her way of life.

The film paints an appropriately bleak picture of what it was like for a woman in those days. Georgiana is a beautiful, intelligent, and charming young woman whose only hope in life is that she happens to marry someone who loves her and will treat her like a human being. As it turns out, Devonshire becomes increasingly unlikeable as he expects Georgiana to abide by his affairs, then sit in silence as he keeps another woman and her children under their roof, and not just any woman, but one that had become a good friend of Georgiana.

The movie is beautifully filmed and the performances are very good. The story tells a compelling story of a woman trapped by her times and circumstances and forced to make terrible choices."
A well-done period drama.
S. Curley | Charlottetown, PE, Canada | 12/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A lot of people think of British period drama as stuffy and boring, a reputation it occasionally does something to deserve, but history is anything but dull, and if you were under the impression that the past was a place of strong moral values and happy marriages that has given way to our current immoral society full of single parents and extramarital affairs, think again. Consider the subject of the life of Georgiana Spenser Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley).

Married young by her mother (Charlotte Rampling, in a wonderfully controlled performance) to William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes), the foremost peer of the realm, she finds quickly that her husband (who she met only twice beforehand) is a cold and distant fellow who is only interested in a male heir. Already tasked to mother his bastard daughter Charlotte, she gives birth to two daughters, to the disgust of the Duke, who has a series of mistresses that she tolerates. The Duchess becomes a social marvel, hobnobbing with Whig politicians like Charles James Fox (Simon McBurney) and Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper, later 2nd Earl Grey and Prime Minister) and politician/esteemed playwright Richard Sheridan (Aidan McArdle), whose "School for Scandal" was based heavily on the Cavendishes' marriage. She eventually finds a close friend in Lady Elizabeth (Bess) Foster (Hayley Atwell), and invites her to live with them, which turns out to have dangerous consequences when the Duke initiates an affair with her, and refuses to expel her. She then finds herself living in a forced menage a trois (subtle humour found in the three of them eating silent breakfasts together). Understandably, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Grey.

The dramatic core of "The Duchess" is an examination of the limited social prospects for women in this period (though, as an aside, one imagines a great many poor women from this period would gladly enter a loveless marriage to live like Georgiana does), and their limited legal rights. Both Bess and Georgiana face adulterous husbands who hold over them the prospect of never seeing their children again as a price of leaving; getting her children back is, indeed, Bess's motive for embarking on her affair with the Duke, who, as a powerful lord, is easily able to finagle it. Georgiana, likewise, initially decides to choose freedom over her daughters, but cannot. The Duke, for his part, is a controlling fellow, raised in a very patriarchal worldview; Fiennes expertly shows his emotional straitjacketing, which at odd moments make him mildly sympathetic, though he mostly is not, particularly at the conception of his long-desired son. He's normally at a loss when called to talk about feelings.

Keira Knightley, once again travelling back in time to the 18th century (her fifth or sixth visit, I believe), does a fine job as Georgiana. Hayley Atwell is likewise very good as Bess, a character who walks the finest line between sympathy and dislike from the audience. There's a curious scene included which seems to suggest at a rather different dynamic between the two women, though this doesn't go anywhere. Fiennes, as mentioned, does his best in a rather staid role. Dominic Cooper as the young semi-radical Grey is suitable, though not of the same calibre as the other actors. McBurney and McArdle are scene-stealers in small parts as Georgiana's sympathetic male acquaintances. The set design, as one would expect, is stunning.

While not in the highest tier of British period pieces, this is a fine addition to the genre."
"The Duke of Devonshire, he loves me?"
Luan Gaines | Dana Point, CA USA | 12/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)


A sad testament to the rigors of 18th century English society and women's roles, The Duchess tells the story of Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightly) and her marriage to the older Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes). The product of a society that relegates women to window dressing and child-bearing, at sixteen Georgiana is filled with romantic notions and little information about the demands of marriage. Frolicking with her companions on the lawn of her family's estate- including future prime minister and lover Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper) - Georgiana is thrilled to learn of a marriage proposal by the impressive Duke of Devonshire. All the duke requires is a male heir and his bride-to-be is certainly capable of fulfilling her husband's demands. On the pointed advice of her mother (an intimidating Charlotte Rampling), Georgiana casts her self into the role of wife, quickly disabused of any frivolous romantic notions on her wedding night. Unfortunately, Georgiana bears the duke three girls, her husband increasingly chagrined and ill-tempered as his wife disappoints him with the birth of each new daughter.

Stoic and rigid when it comes to his wife, Fiennes plays the distant husband to perfection, indulging in extra-marital affairs and ignoring his wife's obvious suffering when she discovers his penchant for callous infidelity. Georgiana responds as best she can, given the restraints of society, becoming the darling of the social set, charming and witty, a trendsetter who captivates the imaginations of those who enjoy her company, male and female. One admirer is Whig party leader Charles Fox, but there are many. Georgiana is a skillful raconteur regardless of her deep disappointment with marriage. On an outing to Bath, Georgiana makes a new friend, a woman suffering the loss of her children through her powerful husband's interference. The kind-hearted Georgiana welcomes this woman into her home only to know the most grievous betrayal of all and the beginning of her deepest despair.

Georgiana's is a tragic life, a woman trapped by society's expectations. Knightly captures the essence of this woman's dilemma, her fresh beauty quickly marred by the reality of her situation. The one time Georgiana dares to break from her restrictive marriage and cold husband, seeking love in the arms of her lover, Charles Grey, she suffers immediate repercussions, brought quickly to heel by the man who controls every aspect of her life, especially her children. English society is not kind to women when they escape the boundaries set by men. As much as Georgiana is loved by the public, her behavior is scandalous. Although a somewhat repentant duke welcomes his defeated wife home, it begs belief that Georgiana's life would really change for the better, save her acceptance of the limitations of the marriage. Still, this is a thoughtful commentary on the marriage of a spirited young woman who endures a similar fate long before the memorable Diana Spencer, her relative. Luan Gaines/ 2008.