Combustible Celluloid
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With: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper, Simon McBurney, Aidan McArdle, John Shrapnel, Alistair Petrie, Patrick Godfrey, Michael Medwin, Justin Edwards, Richard McCabe
Written by: Jeffrey Hatcher, Anders Thomas Jensen, Saul Dibb, based on a book by Amanda Foreman
Directed by: Saul Dibb
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and thematic material
Running Time: 110
Date: 09/03/2008

The Duchess (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Costume Partly

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Keira Knightly dons perhaps her most spectacular costumes yet for this otherwise routine period drama. She plays the free-spirited Georgiana, who suddenly finds herself married to the sullen, practical Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes) and expected to produce a male heir. Of course, she starts having girls, and the Duke begins sleeping with Georgiana's best friend Bess (Hayley Atwell). Director Saul Dibb pretends that all this stuff is new without actually making it so, and Knightley provides a few requisite Oscar clips with her performance. It's Fiennes, however, who does something truly remarkable here: using the character's bored, almost lethargic exterior, he gets away with monstrous behavior, but always within the context of logic rather than outright villainy. He may even bring back memories of Schindler's List.

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