Daily News header

The Duchess Movie Review; Sexual Subversion In Corsets

By     get stories by email


Not just another royal goddess in a gilded cage period costume drama, The Duchess couldn't be a more perfect matchup for today, when women with the audacity to bid for the highest political offices in the land are dismissively told to go home and take care of their kids or iron male shirts. And combining the best of both cinematic worlds, The Duchess palpitates with a compelling personal story that rarely strays from the incendiary politics of the era.

Directed by Saul Dibb (Bullet Boy) and based on the award winning Amanda Foreman biography, Georgiana: Duchess Of Devonshire, the film delves into the rebellious, tragic life of the brainy, gambling, hard drinking high-born Georgiana Spencer, who in the late 18th century entered into an arranged marriage as a sixteen year old to middle aged grouch, William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire. The blatant purpose of this cold, contractual matrimony was to produce a male heir of aristocratic blood for the incorrigible womanizer, much to Georgiana's dismay, a union embodying about as much passion as horse breeding.


The movie has also sparked a great deal of curiosity because Georgiana happens to be an ancestor of the late Princess Diana Spencer, and their doomed marriages do bear some similarity. But gossip junkie alert, this is Georgiana's story. And it stands quite on its own as a luminous portrait of a strong-willed female, who adamantly refused to accept that the impetus to liberty during a period of revolutionary upheaval on the planet and any declaration of the rights of man meant just that, and in no way included women.

Keira Knightley is stunning in the role of the duchess, a free spirited young woman born into the period of twin revolutions in France and America, along with the Enlightenment in England, but who quickly learns that any of this liberation talk is strictly off limits for females. Informed that her highest duty as a proper lady is resignation along with producing male children, Georgiana is subjected to an abusive, loveless marriage with numerous lovers sneaking into her marriage bed when she's not around, mandatory duty as surrogate mother to the duke's illegitimate child, and worst of all in the eyes of society, a mother in her own right who seems incapable of producing anything other than female offspring.

A mistreated outcast in her own luxurious home, Georgiana flexes her creative impulses in the only artistic endeavor allowed women back then - fashion. And in the spirit of the new sense of freedom in the air, she follows the lead of her errant spouse by doing the unthinkable - taking her own lover too. Namely, Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), who would later become Prime Minister after consenting to shun this high society sexual subversive in petticoats.

The Duchess shines with its own unique radiance by avoiding the major pitfalls of such drawing room dramas. That is, by not making the mistake of subjecting the audience to a stuffy, hermetic oppression similar to what the characters are experiencing. And doing so by flinging open the windows of those elegant, airless confines, broadening the scope of the story, and allowing history in, however just beyond tantalizing reach. As such, the film illuminates, not just the lives of these characters, but the agony and ecstasy of those tempestuous times.

Paramount Vantage
Rated PG-13
4 stars

Prairie Miller is a multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio. Contact her through NewsBlaze.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Angelina Jolie talks about her passion for bringing this story to life, as producer and director. A biopic about victims of torture held in a Japanese prison camp during World War II, it was co-written by the Coen brothers
David can currently be seen in Christopher Nolan's space travel, sci-fi adventure Interstellar and in A Most Violent Year opposite Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac. He just wrapped production on Captive, a true-life crime thriller, and will soon co-
Movie Reviewer, Kam Williams interviews Mark Wahlberg about his new film, 'The Gambler' and shares it here on Newsblaze.
Following last episode's cliffhanger, this action-oriented installment opens with Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf pals fretting over having unwittingly awakened Smaug.
Movie reviewer Kam Williams shares the top movies opening December 19, 2014 at theatres around the world!
Here are the must see and top Ten DVD releases for this week, including The Equalizer with Denzel Washington, This Is Where I Leave You, and Finding Your Roots.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month


Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

landing page ad

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site