Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Review : The Duchess

The Duchess :  A chronicle which looks into the history of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.

Why am I reviwing this? Well belive or not, It actually came up in conversation that I was having with a friend the other day. I was questioning the fact of 'What is Genre?' which lead into us discussing period drama and then I thought i'd turn to this. And now I here I am, eagertistical to talk about what I think of this film. remember, everyone is a critic here.

I have a parshall liking for this movie, because it's very differnet to everything else that went out at the time and the thing about film is that it informs as well as entertains. This is a very insightful approach into viewing a very differnet type of film. The historical period pieces which are just a joy to watch, beautifully acted, wonderfully atmospheric and accurate, emmacualte colourful costumes all of which set the production up perfectly to make it all the more beliveable and rewarding whilst you watch it.

Some might say that the progession of 'The Duchess' in terms of it's pacing is a bit slow, but that doesn't matter. I've always thought that this a progressive piece which you have to allow time in order to establish itself to it's full capacity. If you do that then you will be able to understand the more suttle quiet scenes in much better detail. There are lovely piques and sections of extravagent detail in this film, it's all down to having the patience to find it.

I love everything about the set up of this film : The grand houses. The glorious interiors. The awe-inspiring lobbies and entrances with marble flooring washed with natural light. The candlelit ballrooms densely populated by simpering ladies and gossiping 18th-century politicians. The wigs. The Whigs. The elegant country houses, from whose drawing rooms ambitious mothers can thoughtfully watch their beautiful, innocent daughters romping ingenuously on the wonderful lawns.

Director Saul Dibb smoothly orchestrates these elements in his stately, measured pageant-drama, starring Keira Knightley as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, the brilliant but broken-hearted political hostess and courageous wronged woman whose life story, with a little tweaking, resembles that of her 20th-century descendant: our own Queen of Hearts, the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Once again, Keira is playing at the comfortable upper reaches of the social register, though without the thin, shrill edge of neurosis that made her performance compelling from an observation point of perspective, her performance is superb in this. She is the simple girl whose steely-eyed mama a shrewd, cold performance from Charlotte Rampling who also is superb in the film, pairs her off with the fabulously wealthy and powerful Duke of Devonshire, played with a kind of clenched glumness by Ralph Fiennes. Like many Englishmen of that time period and ours, he is emotionally animated only by animals: in this case, his beloved dogs.

At first shy and lonely, Georgiana discovers that she is loved by the people and by high society alike; she blossoms and makes her husband look a dullard. But the duke breaks her heart with his indiscretions, including an affair with Georgiana's best friend, Lady Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell) - and so Georgiana finds herself submitting to the attentions of the handsome Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper). It was, to coin a phrase, very crowded in that marriage, and once the facts are presented in this light, Georgiana does indeed start to look like Diana.

One bug with this film that I have is, I find it frustrating that this film does not give Keira Knightley much of a chance to show the true progression of her character: from simple teenager to racy society woman with a weakness for wine and gambling and finally to battle-hardened mother, a person who now knows what is really important in this world and who is dedicated to staying with her children. It's all fine in terms of timing and showing what happened, what it lacks is the viewer to see Georgiana develop as a person, see her grow up and grow old even. Frankly, this doesn't happen, though I sensed that Knightley could have achieved this, had the script and direction allowed it.

But that's not what grinds my gears about this, my main bug with Dibb's film is the fact that it looks emaculate, but there is something exasperatingly bland and slow-moving at times. Unlike the heroine, he never takes much of a risk, I would of liked to have seen more spice thrown into it, it would of helped with the pacing of it, and would of added more conflict, there wasn't enough conflict to add to the drama.

Overall It's a very good production, a great costume drama just a bit bland. I have to give this 7/10.

NEXT : Patch Adams

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