Duchess, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes. Written by Jeffrey Hatcher, Anders Thomas Jensen, Saul Dibb. Directed by Saul Dibb.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Long before the concept existed, the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightley), was the original It Girl. Like her direct descendent 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 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 (Ralph Fiennes).

PREVIEW REVIEW: Fueled by detailed direction, pumped by satisfying performances, energized by fluid and sultry cinematography, and textured by well-written melodrama, The Duchess is both elegant and bawdy. Though this is well made, please read the content. There are a couple of sexual situations, one becoming a bit more graphic than necessary.

DVD Alternative: Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Reprising the roles they originated in Elizabeth, Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush return for a historical drama laced with treachery and romance. Joining them in the epic is Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh, a dashing seafarer and newfound temptation for Elizabeth. The Golden Age finds Queen Elizabeth I facing bloodlust for her throne and familial betrayal. Growing keenly aware of the changing religious and political tides of late 16th century Europe, Elizabeth finds her rule openly challenged by the Spanish King Philip II (Jordi Molla) with his powerful sea-dominating armada determined to restore England to Catholicism.

A work of art. Simply a stunning cinematic conception. Like classics of old that either accidentally or magically found their filmmaking elements coming together like a perfect recipe, writers William Nicholson and Michael Hirst, director Shekhar Kapur, and all the artists and technicians involved in this production have given moviegoers an exceptional evenings entertainment.

As with all period pieces, costumes and set decoration play a major role in the final cut. But here costumes, art direction, and cinematography are so well used they become atmospheric characters, never overshadowing the production, but effectively harmonizing both story and performances like water colors in a fine Degas.

And what can be said about Cate Blanchett? When given the proper material this is an actress who, like Meryl Streep, takes her profession seriously, paying her craft reverence. Worthy of honors, but this is not a performance done in order to achieve award recognition. It is done, as I said, out of respect for an artistry that can touch the very soul of the audience. In other words, she did good.

(PG-13 (in a fit of jealous rage, the Queen utters several angry expletives, including the films one use of the f-word; I caught no profane use of Gods name; as the kingdom prepares for war, we see a few people tortured in order to gain information; the scenes are not long, but they depict the suffering of physical torment; these scenes are not suitable for little children; a woman is beheaded for treason; we see the axe raised before the scene cuts away; a man is hanged; during the battle at sea with Spains armada, cannon fire blows people up; in a rage the queen slaps her lady in waiting; some blood surrounding the wounds of a tortured person; one implied sexual situation that leads to pregnancy; they couple then wed; we see the queen disrobe, seeing her naked from behind; the scene is not meant to be more character revealing than physical; Sir Raleigh introduces England to tobacco if he only knew).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Paramount Vantage

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Some bawdy dialogue

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: During a fight the Duke rapes his wife; the director cuts away, but we hear her screams.

Sex: There are three or four sexual situations; one is very tempered, one gets a bit more graphic but no nudity; a woman explains that sex is not just for procreation; while doing so she kisses the Duchess on the back and so-forth; they are not lesbians, but the scene is titillating; both the Duke and the Duchess have adulterous affairs

Nudity: We see the bared bottom of a servant girl leaving the Dukes bedroom, indicating that he is having an adulterous affair.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Wine is served with every dinner; a depressed Duchess gets drunk in one scene.

Other: None

Running Time: 109 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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