• PG-13, 1 hr. 50 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Saul Dibb
    In Theaters:
    Sep 5, 2008 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jan 27, 2009
  • Paramount Vantage

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The Duchess Reviews

Ben Kenigsberg
Time Out
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Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 3/5

November 17, 2011
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
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Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 5/5

May 13, 2009
Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
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This is a wonderful film.

Full Review Source: At the Movies

November 7, 2008
Ben Lyons
At the Movies
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There's something really special about Kiera Knightly in these period pieces.

Full Review Source: At the Movies

November 7, 2008

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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October 18, 2008
Claudia Puig
USA Today
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It chronicles the saga of a vibrant and forward-thinking woman hampered by the constraints of a rigid society.

Full Review Source: USA Today | Original Score: 3/4

October 18, 2008
Tasha Robinson
Chicago Tribune
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It's disturbingly shallow, focused so tightly on one woman's feelings of repression and loneliness that it lacks any perspective on their causes.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 2.5/4

October 18, 2008
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
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The Duchess is clearly Knightley's movie, ultimately rising or falling on her performance. She's up to the task, capturing both the charm and grace that made Georgiana so captivating.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 3.5/5

October 9, 2008
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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Fiennes, an actor who disappears into roles like ice in a teacup, makes the Duke a complex and almost sympathetic figure, a bulky, unappealing man whose interests are in all the wrong things.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

September 26, 2008
Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
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Beguiling.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 3/4

September 26, 2008
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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The Duchess gives us a gorgeous world, a detailed picture of a time and place that could have been painted by Constable, Gainsborough or Watteau. But you wouldn't want to live there.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 3.5/4

September 26, 2008
Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
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There's nothing here to show us what a remarkable woman Georgiana was, if indeed she was at all.

Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 26, 2008
Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
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It isn't just eye candy; there's an active intelligence behind this design.

Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle | Original Score: 3/4

September 26, 2008
Tom Long
Detroit News
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Though extravagantly pretty, The Duchess still manages to be a costume drama in which the drama survives the costumes.

Full Review Source: Detroit News | Original Score: B

September 26, 2008
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
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It's easy to joke about Knightley's fondness for period dramas. But we shouldn't underestimate her ability to channel the historic and modern into one compelling figure -- or her grasp of the power of dress-up to free performance.

Full Review Source: Denver Post | Original Score: 3/4

September 26, 2008
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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I'm not sure why The Duchess doesn't wholly succeed, because the pieces are all there and they're very watchable.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 26, 2008
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
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Sure, The Duchess is a lavish exercise in style over substance, but it's a well-crafted, superbly acted one.

Full Review Source: Associated Press

September 26, 2008
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
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This is scandal-mongering fun that also lays bare the deforming power of the male aristocracy.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

September 26, 2008
Christopher Orr
The New Republic
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[Viewers] may wish to heed the marital advice Georgiana's mother offers early in the film: 'Equip yourself with patience, fortitude, and resignation.'

Full Review Source: The New Republic

September 26, 2008
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
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While I much liked The Duchess, this portrait feels unfinished.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3/4

September 25, 2008
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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The Duchess is a handsome historical film, impeccably mounted, gowned, wigged and feathered.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3.5/4

September 25, 2008
David Ansen
Newsweek
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It's elegantly mounted and never dull -- and always easy on the eyes.

Full Review Source: Newsweek

September 22, 2008
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
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Princess Di deserves livelier revisionism.

Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal

September 19, 2008
Linda Barnard
Toronto Star
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Fiennes and Knightley are exceptional in their roles and Dibb proves himself ably in his first big-budget flick.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 3/4

September 19, 2008
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
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Knightley is up to the task. Her Georgiana is history with a human face.

Full Review Source: Salon.com

September 19, 2008
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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Things unfold as neatly, and slowly, as a minuet, but there's none of the messiness of life. And that's a shame.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 19, 2008
Kyle Smith
New York Post
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Knightley is a paper doll around whom the movie wraps hoop skirts and 21st century victimology.

Full Review Source: New York Post | Original Score: 1.5/4

September 19, 2008
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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Thanks to Fiennes, we come to understand the enigmatic duke as the immovable object deeply perplexed at having to contend with the unstoppable force that is his wife. It is a quietly complex performance almost beyond words.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 3.5/5

September 19, 2008
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
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Nice try, but the contemporary parallels are just an empty echo.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 19, 2008
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
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The Duchess is an overstuffed, intellectually underbaked portrait of a poor little rich girl.

| Original Score: 2/5

September 19, 2008
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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It's Knightley who makes The Duchess a royal treat.

| Original Score: 3/4

September 18, 2008
Bob Mondello
NPR.org
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Knightley's wig gets bigger and bigger as the character grows more unhappy, until finally it catches fire — leading to the potentially immortal line, "Please put out Her Grace's hair."

Full Review Source: NPR.org | Original Score: 6/10

September 18, 2008
Noel Murray
AV Club
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The Duchess recalls Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, in that it's about bed-hopping and courtly ritual during a time of revolution.

Full Review Source: AV Club | Original Score: B+

September 18, 2008
Rafer Guzman
Newsday
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[Knightley] breathes real life into the role of Georgiana Cavendish, an 18th century aristocrat with striking parallels to another, more modern, British notable.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 3/4

September 18, 2008
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
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[The filmmakers] have accomplished their goal of making the unorthodox life of the late-18th-century noblewoman Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire, relevant to a 21st-century audience of moviegoers.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B

September 17, 2008
David Fear
Time Out New York
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Knightley does the best she can to enliven such thin Masterpiece Theatre material, but eventually, the sheer emptiness of the pageantry wears her -- and us -- out.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 2/6

September 17, 2008
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
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It has impeccable production values but feels like a Masterpiece Theater production of a Harlequin romance novel.

Full Review Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 2/4

September 17, 2008
Rex Reed
New York Observer
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It looks like outtakes from the nauseating bubble-gum fantasy Marie Antoinette.

Full Review Source: New York Observer

September 17, 2008
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
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Although it skims the surface, The Duchess is an uncommonly well-crafted historical feminist tearjerker -- both anti-patriarchal and a monument to motherhood.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture

September 15, 2008
Dave Calhoun
Time Out
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He's also helped enormously by a mature, restrained portrayal from Knightley, a masterclass in passive aggression from Fiennes and a performance of tender seduction from Atwell.

Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 5/6

September 5, 2008
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
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Solid but distant melodrama about the flamboyant 18th century Duchess of Devonshire.

September 2, 2008
Justin Chang
Variety
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For all its luscious period trappings and Keira Knightley's spirited take on the title role, Saul Dibb's handsome biopic reveals little about how Georgiana Spencer Cavendish became one of 18th-century London's most celebrated and influential aristocrats.

Full Review Source: Variety

September 2, 2008
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