***WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

The Duchess (based on Amanda Foreman’s book Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire) is a romantic period drama that chronicles the life of the titular Duchess Georgiana (Keira Knightley) after her marriage to the Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish (Ralph Fiennes). Georgiana becomes famous due to her beauty and fashion and exploits of gambling; but Georgiana’s inability to give the Duke an heir forces him to look elsewhere, in turn leading to the Duchess seeking another lover herself.

The cast is excellent, full of British talent both accomplished actors and relative newcomers to the industry. The two leads of the film really bring depth and emotion to their character. Ralph Fiennes manages to portray the Duke really well as a cold and bitter older man and shows just why he makes a perfect baddie. And Keira Knightley excels herself with one of her best performances; she really stands out from the rest of the cast as the best performer in the piece. The main characters are supported well enough by two of my favourite young British actors, Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell who play their parts sufficiently enough, despite Cooper looking rather daft in his wig.

The relationships between all of the characters are wholly believable: the ‘marriage’ between Duke and Duchess, the friendship between the Duchess and Lady Foster (Atwell) and the hidden love between the Duchess and future prime minister Charles Grey (Cooper). They make for good viewing in themselves.

Much of the plot, though, is very predictable from the offset. There are clues early on as to what is going to happen later and they’re not even subtle clues which the audience has to look very carefully for, the whole film is practically spoon fed to viewers which was a shame as the story was really quite interesting. The costumes and set design were very well done and made the film very aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eye.

Whilst necessary for the film I wasn’t keen on how often it took a huge leap forward in time, although this is more of a pet hate rather than a bad thing in the film because the way that it shows time passing is very simply but cleverly done. It did enough to keep me interested and Knightley herself makes the film good enough to watch, but there are some places where you just will the film to move along with a bit of pace.

My Rating: 6/10

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