Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Long before the concept existed, the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer, was the original “It Girl.” Like her direct ancestor Princess Diana, she was ravishing, glamorous and adored by an entire country. Determined to be a player in the wider affairs of the world, she proved that she could out-gamble, out-drink and outwit most of the aristocratic men who surrounded her. She helped usher in sweeping changes to England as a leader of the forward-thinking Whig Party. But even as her power and popularity grew, she was haunted by the fact that the only man in England she seemingly could not seduce was her very own husband, the Duke. And when she tried to find her own way to be true to her heart and loyal to her duty, the resulting controversies and convoluted liaisons would leave all of London talking. (Paramount Vantage) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34
  1. 88
    This is not one of those delightful movies based on a Jane Austen novel. It is about hard realists, constrained in a stifling system and using whatever weapons they can command.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    The players are uniformly good, but a special word must be said for Fiennes, whose portrayal of physical awkwardness and painful taciturnity never begs either for laughs or for sympathy.
  3. It tells the amazing, but mostly true, story of a late-18th century aristocrat who made an indelible mark on English society akin to that of her direct descendant, Lady Diana.
  4. Provided you don't take it seriously, it makes for an addictively entertaining diversion that's as hard to stop watching as the books are to stop reading.
  5. As for true-love Charles, he would ascend to the Prime Minister's office, and then rise again to even greater heights: They named the tea after him. Indeed, that may be the smartest way to see this flick, curled up on your sofa with a cup of Earl Grey -- just make sure it's as decaffeinated as what you're watching.
  6. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    It's too bad there's not more substance to The Duchess, because there's lots of acting and, as is required of a Brit-styled period piece, lushness galore.
  7. 38
    Everything is predictable three scenes in advance, and it's all stale, stuck, stolid.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 19
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 19
  3. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. AndresV.
    Feb 9, 2009
    very good movie, but no perfect! great perfomances
  2. AlanM.
    Sep 23, 2008
    Must be seen - brilliant stuff from Knightley and Feinnes.
  3. LaurenS.
    Oct 19, 2008
    Great movie! Knightley and Fiennes are both quite good, but KK is the star here and does a surprisingly good job (because it's that good). The critics' reviews on here do not do the film justice. There is some fulff, but it is well-written, well-acted, and tugs at your heart. I think a lot of why the critics reviews on here aren't so great is beacuse it is a girl movie but obviously they got nothing from the movie b/c they are propogating the same attiudes toward women that the movie speaks about. I am not sure about how accurate it is but VERY good! liked it and i'm a tough crowd. Expand
  4. BillyS.
    Oct 26, 2008
    Though it lacks the opulence and scale of Sophia Coppolla's Marie Antoinette it more than makes up for it with a great screenplay and some truly brilliant performances from Keira Knightley, Ralph Feinnes and Hayley Atwell, plus the legendary Charlotte Rampling in a small, but scene stealing role. The Duchess is one of those small gems you go in to with no expectations and leave surprized at just how much you fell into it. Expand
  5. Jan 30, 2012
    The Duchess isn't just another twee, good-looking period drama. The film hinges on a very strong central performance from Keira Knightley as the titular Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana. Ralph Fiennes also impresses as the rather despicable Duke of Devonshire, as does Hayley Attwell as Lady Elizabeth Foster, the Duke's mistress, and Charlotte Rampling as the dutiful mother of Georgiana. The only real weak link in the casting is Dominic Cooper, whose up-and-coming politician Charles Grey comes across as a little wooden and whiny (a pity considering the importance of his character to the story). The film wisely doesn't try to put a modern spin on late 18th century views - it acknowledges and explores the difficulty of being a high-ranking noble woman during this period, and you really feel for Georgiana and the various struggles she went through. The script is well-polished and provides some meaty themes and well-written dialogue for the cast to get their teeth into. The whole film looks great, with the cinematography making the very most of the elaborate period costumes, stately homes and the English countryside, but of particular note are the scenes where Georgiana and Duke William sit at opposite ends of a long table in a plain, lifeless dining room - a great visual metaphor for the distance between them in their relationship. The Duchess is far better than the average period drama. It's surprisingly dark, emotionally complex, beautifully filmed and well-performed (particularly by Knightley and Fiennes). You're utterly absorbed by the historical setting, and able to really feel for what late-18th century women had to go through, particularly those in the public eye, who were obliged to provide their powerful husbands with an heir to remain in favour. It was a cruel and unfulfilling life, and The Duchess presents it to us as it was, and makes no attempt to sugar-coat what we witness to make it any more palatable. This makes the film an extremely refreshing change to the vast majority of cheery, emotionally shallow historical dramas (that more closely resemble elaborate soap opera), and aside from an underwhelming performance from Dominic Cooper and a slightly too gruelling run-time, a hugely rewarding viewing experience. Expand
  6. JH
    Feb 3, 2009
    Wonderful actors, a terrific script, and a thoroughly engaging story make this a must-see movie.
  7. EnriqueP.
    Jan 12, 2009
    The Duchess is a favourable movie in general. First of all, i have to say that Keira is so repetitive in her performance, that is the less i liked about the movie actually!!!! c'mon she can do a better performance because she is a really good actress. Finnes does a great job and really transmits his feelings with his simple look! He is definitely better than Keira through out the film. The custom design is wonderull and the art direction too. Maybe it is very monotonous and there is a point where you want to stop the movie! It has also very good pieces starting with the adaptation. Thes story is great and it is well narrated in the big screen. Its good to see! Expand

See all 19 User Reviews