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The Duchess (2008)

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A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Speechmaker
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Devonshire House Servant
Hannah Stokely ...
Devonshire House Maid
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Storyline

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 johnno.r[at]xtra.co.nz

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There were three people in her marriage See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

10 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La duquesa  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

£13,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,402,200 (UK) (5 September 2008)

Gross:

$13,823,741 (USA) (5 December 2008)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Susanne Bier wrote an early draft of the script and was originally attached to direct the film. See more »

Goofs

In the scene with the little girls in the carriage, when they print on the screen the names of Harryo, Little G, and Charlotte, they mix up Harryo and Little G's names. Harryo is the youngest, with the dark hair, but they put the name "Little G" in the front of this child and put "Harryo" in front of the blond older child. In a subsequent scene, Harryo, the youngest with the dark hair, falls and scrapes her knee. Georgiana specifically calls her by name, Harryo. In fact, Little G was older than Harryo. So the scene with the names is incorrect, while the scene with the scraped knee is correct. See more »

Quotes

[from trailer]
Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire: You can't ask me to battle nature in my own heart.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Tormented (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio from String Quartet Opus 1 No. 3 in D Major
Written by Joseph Haydn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Compelling and Layered Costume Drama
5 September 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

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.


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