DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Film Review - The Duchess

The Duchess (12a)

Dir. Saul Dibb

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Two’s company but three is definitely a crowd when it comes to marriage and thus is the case in Saul ‘Bullet Boy’ Dibb’s new film which chronicles of the life and loves of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley).
Married off by her parents as a teenager to Ralph Fiennes’ stuffy and emotionally detached Duke who is only after one thing… a male heir… Georgiana’s life becomes one of both opulence and misery, compounded by her only having female children.
Despite being a stunning beauty and social ‘it girl’ the Duchess is trapped in a tragic loveless marriage which gets worse when her husband who takes a live-in mistress right under her nose. Stop me if this sounds at all familiar… Much has been made of the fact that Princess Diana was a descendent of the Devonshire clan and it seems poignant that one of her ancestors walked a lonely loveless marriage so many years before her.
Knightley looks the part and gives good posh, her pretty frame and wicked pouting smile perfectly fitted to the regal role. But try as she might, nothing can prevent her being blown off screen by Fiennes whose Duke is the monstrous, heartless, scene-stealing villain.
Rejected and marginalized by her hubby, the Duchess looks for love outside her marriage with up-and-coming politician Charles Grey (Dominic ‘Mamma Mia’ Cooper), who my wife said wasn’t quite hunky enough to satisfy. Things end in scandal, tears and heartbreak but curiously despite good acting from all concerned and stylish production values, the end result left me a bit cold. I was hoping for a bit more spice, passion or meaty tugging of the heartstrings but having said that there is still much to admire.
The lovely Hayley Atwell stars as the Duke seducing Bess and is certainly one to look out for in the upcoming Brideshead Revisited, which may well overshadow this in terms of emotional engagement. The Duchess is a fine film, but despite the gorgeous landscapes, impressive architecture and great costumes, there’s something missing here and I suspect that it’s real beating heart.
I can recommend The Duchess to those looking for a sumptuous slice of period drama, but don’t expect to be shaken, stirred or emotionally engaged, – just sit back and let the stunning visuals wash gently over you.

"hats off to a fine looking film"

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: öööööö (6)
Tragic story that doesn't go on too long

Tasty Action: ööööö (5)
+ Sumptuous scandal scenes but not action packed

Gratuitous Babeness: öööööööö (8)
+ Knightley is hot, and she even has some girl on girl!?

Mind Blight / Boredom: öö (2)
- Nothing here to make you snooze

Comedic Value: öööööööö (8)
Tons of crackling comic one liners - Ritchie is on form

Arbitrary final rating: öööööööö (6)
Lovely but cold

Liable to make you:
"fall for Keira"

DM Poster Quote:
“the only man not to love the Duchess of Devonshire was her husband!?"
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