Of course The Duchess is dramatic. Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, led a dramatic life and she herself was a dramatic — and smart, and charismatic — woman. I really liked this movie, but I might have liked it more if it were a slightly broader examination of the Duchess. I don't mean that they should have included more years in her life (I think that would have been a mistake) but the vast majority of the film is about her romantic and reproductive woes. She was a daring, intelligent, and remarkably influential woman during a time when women were expected to be anything but those things. While I liked this sweeping period drama, I might have enjoyed less soap opera and a tad more substance.
The costumes, however, cannot be disputed, for they are devastatingly gorgeous. I would watch this movie over and over with the sound off just to feast my eyes on the clothes. Dressed to perfection in every scene, Keira Knightley plays Georgiana, who marries William Cavendish, the Duke of Devonshire when she is just a teenager. The marriage is soon strained as it appears that Georgiana will only bear daughters. While the relationship grows bitter in private, Georgiana starts to become quite popular in public and immerses herself in the world of politics and high society. She's a natural charmer and trend-setter, though her husband puts more and more distance between them, choosing other women over his wife. Before long, Georgiana finds herself falling in love with a young politician, Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), but the threat of scandal proves too great for the Duke and Duchess and a relationship with Charles is forbidden. There's much more to the story, but I won't spoil things for you. I can still share some thoughts, though, so read more