I love Keira Knightley (The Duchess reviewed)


The Duchess (UK/Italy/France/USA, 2008)

Seen: Monday, 29th December 2008 (cinema, pre-release screening)
Runtime: 110′
Polish Distributor: Best Film (9th January 2008)
Director: Saul Dibb
Cast: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper
Production House: Paramount Vantage, Pathé, BBC Films, BIM Distribuzione, Qwerty Films
Plot: The true (or, er… sort of true - it’s been meddled with a bit ;) ) story of Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire. The ingredients of the story are: a really bad marriage, a lot of affairs, a lot of children (legitimate and not), some very colourful and somewhat twisted characters and loads of 18th century British culture.


Impressions In Short
I really enjoyed it :) And I am officially in love with Keira, which I think is rather impressive considering that a few years back I used to consider her a good reason not to see a film ;)

Some Details
When the first Pirates of the Caribbean came out I found it very annoying that to be able to admire Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow (a part I absolutely adore) I had to get through a very boring romantic subplot between Keira and Orlando - two actors I had hated in every film I’d seen them in up to that point. To me, they always looked so stiff and fake that it was difficult to get into the story sometimes.
When the next two Pirate movies came out, however, I found that Keira was no longer bothering me that much. I still wasn’t particularly fond of her, but at least now I only had to get aggravated by one actor rather than two, to be able to admire Johnny ;)
After being somewhat goaded into seeing Atonement by Andreja last spring (if you’re reading this - thank you *grin*), I was surprised to find that I adored Keira in it.
Now, after seeing her in The Duchess, I think I can officially declare my undying love ;) She was really awesome in this - at least as good as in Atonement if not better. She’s come a long way since she started out :)
Keira is (and probably always will be to some extent) somewhat reserved and restrained on screen. And I guess that’s one of the reasons she works so well in costume dramas (she’s got loads more of them lined up, I’m actually wondering if she’ll be able to break out of the genre at all eek).
Georgiana is a slightly different part comparing to the costume dramas I’ve seen her do before - she’s a more outgoing personality I think, but also much more vulnerable. And then there’s quite a strong focus on motherhood (which Keira does wonderfully! she made me cry *sniff*).
While I’m totally wowed by Keira, the whole cast was actually very good with perhaps the exception of the lad who played Charles Grey (Georgiana’s lover) - he somehow just didn’t feel right. Kin (who has read the biography that this film is based on) says that in reality Grey was younger than Georgiana and this lad just didn’t look it. And I certainly felt that there was something about the way their love was scripted that would have worked much better if the part had been given to a guy who looked in his teens or early twenties.
The film has many sad scenes, but sad in a very beautiful way :) When I watch a really good film it kind of haunts me for a while afterwards - scenes (usually the sad or dramatic ones) keep coming back to me at random moments in the day and keep sort of making me tense in a pleasant way (which probably sounds a bit strange, but whatever - I don’t know how to explain it better ;-P). I’m having this haunted sort of feeling with this one. For some reason it seems to be the rape scene (there is one, I won’t say which characters though, so as not to spoil it for anyone else :]) that’s coming back to me the most.
It’s interesting how very often it’s not the scenes that “show all” that have the strongest emotional impact. The rape scene is actually quite mild in terms of what they showed - almost all of it happens off-screen, it’s just the sound that lets you know what’s going on. And yet it is very powerful. I think it’s going to haunt me for a while yet.
I was a little surprised to find that most countries have rated the film at around the 12-13 kind of age bracket and some have gone even lower than that (there’s even a General Audience one in there). To me it felt like the film warranted a 15 or something like that, but then when I start thinking about what was actually shown - there’s not that much. If you take just what physically appeared on screen I guess the film can comfortably fit into a 12 or maybe even a PG certificate. But it somehow felt like much maturer content than what was actually there.
Finally I guess I shouldn’t review this film without mentioning the dialogues which are absolutely hilarious (yep, me and Kin were yet again the only people in the cinema to laugh ;-P well us and some guy behind us who we think was laughing at us rather than at the film ;) in fact we had Equus with us this time round and he didn’t laugh either ;) he did understand what we were laughing at though so that’ll have to suffice ;) I did once go with a friend who didn’t get what I was laughing at at all :]). It was fun actually how they managed to combine these beautifully sad scenes with the absurd dialogue.

Yes, definitely! :) Unless you don’t like costume dramas or something. I’m not even sure what other “don’t watch” kind of conditions I can give, so it obviously must have been very good ;)

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