Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a 13-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit. Based on the British romance novel by Ian McEwan.
The story follows a married couple, apart for a night while the husband takes a business trip with a colleague to whom he's attracted to. While he's resisting temptation, his wife encounters her past love.
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
Costume designer Michael O'Connor based the blue "Fox uniform" ensemble worn by Keira Knightley in the whig political rally scene on portraits and political cartoons of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, that were made in the late 18th century. See more »
Althorp Estate, Georgiana's childhood home (shown in the exterior shots of the foot race at the beginning of the film), was originally a red brick building. Red brick went out of style in the 1780's, at which point the entire building was altered with mathematical tile nailed onto the original red brick to give it its current gray exterior. At the time of Georgiana's marriage to the Duke in 1774, the building would still have been red brick as the architectural work started in 1788. The current Earl Spencer (Princess Diana's brother) had the mathematical tiles redone for a cool $8-9 million as many of the original nails used had rusted away, at which point the original red brick used for Althorp was also ruined. See more »
Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire:
[to a crowd of her adoring public at Bath regaled with a large plume on her hat]
We come away to Bath to get away from London, and all of London has come away to Bath.
[laughter from the audience]
Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire:
Somebody did indeed ask me what kind of feather it is I'm wearing. Well, there are only two specimins of this rare bird known to man. One of them has clearly ended up on top of my head, and the other - rumor has it he's running for office in the Tory Party.
See more »
The Duchess is a superior slice of costume drama which manages to craft interesting, multi dimensional characters and an involving storyline from the well worn confines of the genre.
Keira Knightley plays a very similar role to the one she played in Pride and Prejudice, a feisty, modern woman trapped in a male dominated society. However, whereas Lizzie Bennett's heart and character inspires affection, the Duchess of Devonshire's fosters only reproach and punishment from her traditional and patriarchal husband. Her performance is a standout and demonstrates why she is so highly rated in the face of many disappointing roles in other films. She brings both strength and weakness to the character. Able to deliver withering put downs at her husband and others, whilst showing the pain of her loveless marriage etched into her face.
If Knightley is the lynchpin of the piece then it is Ralph Fiennes that elevates it above a crowded genre. Resisting the temptation to play his character as evil, instead he simply plays him as a man of his times. In Fiennes' hands the Duke feels no need to win any bouts of verbal jousting with his wife as he is secure in the knowledge that, as a husband, he is in complete control of the relationship. The Duke also clearly sees very little wrong in his treatment of his wife and acts, as he sees it, in a logic manner making the whole film feel more believable and, as a result, tragic.
In terms of the cast the only misstep is Dominic Cooper as Charles Grey, who lends the wide eyes of a political dreamer but doesn't have convincing chemistry with Knightley and plays one of the more one dimensional characters in the piece. However Hayley Atwell impresses by playing her character so well it is possible to describe her as scheming, and manipulative as well as sympathetic and loyal without it seeming a contradiction.
The film is deliberately paced so as to give characters and events time to breathe, encouraging the mood that the marriage is a car crash in slow motion, inextricably drawing all the characters further into the muddled mess of their relationships. Overall it's a fully recommended slice of real life costume drama that draws a multi layered drama full of compellingly deep characters from what could easily have been a one note story.
128 of 167 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?