The death of King Henry VIII throws his kingdom into chaos because of succession disputes. His weak son Edward, is on his deathbed. Anxious to keep England true to the Reformation, a ... See full summary »
Helena Bonham Carter,
Queen Victoria is deeply depressed after the death of her husband, disappearing from public. Her servant Brown, who adores her, through caress and admiration brings her back to life, but ... See full summary »
Young Queen Margot finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage amidst a religious war between Catholics and Protestants. She hopes to escape with a new lover, but finds herself imprisoned by her powerful and ruthless family.
An aspiring young physician, Robert Merivel found himself in the service of King Charles II and saves the life of a spaniel dear to the King. Merivel joins the King's court and lives the ... See full summary »
Robert Downey Jr.,
Georgiana Spencer became Duchess of Devonshire on her marriage to the Duke in 1774, at the height of the Georgian period, a period of fashion, decadence, and political change. Spirited and adored by the public at large she quickly found her marriage to be a disappointment, defined by her duty to produce a male heir and the Duke's philandering and callous indifference to her. She befriends Lady Bess but finds she is once again betrayed by her husband who wields his power with the three eventually living uncomfortably together. Against this background, and with the pressures of an unfaithful husband, strict social pressures and constant public scrutiny, Georgiana falls passionately in love with Charles Grey, a rising young Whig politician. However, despite his ongoing liaison with Lady Bess, the Duke refuses to allow her to continue the affair and threatens to take her children from her. Written by
The latest slice of period drama to grace our screens is this biopic on Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who during the 1770s was patroness of the Whig party and prisoner of a marriage which made her, among other things, suffer the indignity of having her husband's mistress living under the same roof. These heritage dramas are an industry all by themselves; the armies of prop hirers, wig and costume makers, researchers, production designers, location scouts and (mostly) British actors who go to make them must find themselves in almost permanent employ. The BBC does them, the Americans have a go at them, and the public can't seem to get enough of them. The Duchess is a superior example of the genre, though nowhere in the league of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, and combines the spectacle of Keira Knightley looking glamorous in a range of frocks and wigs, while at the same time honing her acting talents (no more those rictus grins), with the guilty pleasure of following the uncomfortable parallels between the fortunes and indiscretions of the ancestress of Lady Diana Spencer with those of the Princess of Wales herself. Lowering over the whole proceedings is the truly superb presence of Ralph Fiennes's Duke of Devonshire, Fiennes an actor who can convey polite discomfiture or threatening ire with slightest twitch of the mouth. In his hands the Duke becomes far less a melodramatic villain than a product of his time, and you almost feel sorry for him. Go and see The Duchess; only those who have had children will balk at the liberties taken with childbirth and breastfeeding. But not even that will spoil the fun.
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