Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Duchess’ Looks Great, Ultimately Hollow

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – Every year produces a movie or two that dazzles with beautiful costumes and lavishly recreated period settings but falls flat when it comes to character. Saul Dibb’s “The Duchess” is a gorgeously rendered film, a great fit for the HD format of Blu-Ray, but lack of character leaves a film that feels hollow.

The Duchess was released by Paramount Home Video on December 28th, 2008.

Keira Knightley, so much better in last year’s “Atonement,” gets to wear most of the lavishly designed costumes in “The Duchess” as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, a headstrong young woman forced to marry an emotionally distant Duke (Ralph Fiennes) in the 18th century. Knightley needs to prove that she can do something that doesn’t require wigs and costumes. It’s getting repetitive for an actress of her age to be so limited in the roles she chooses.

The Duchess was released by Paramount Home Video on December 28th, 2008.

Georgiana is a head-strong woman in a time and position that doesn’t really support female independence. Despite that, she becomes a fashion icon and celebrity in the social circles she runs in, until things get very complicated at home. The Duke takes a lover, Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell), and the Duchess herself falls in love with an ambitious young politician names Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper). “The Duchess” is a soap opera masquerading as serious drama with infidelity, love triangles, illegitimate children, social scandal, and gossip taking center stage over character.

“The Duchess” is a visual stunner and features a lovely score by Rachel Portman, nomination-worthy costume design by Michael O’Connor and an intriguing supporting performance by Ralph Fiennes, but if you take away the costumes and gorgeous sets, Dibb’s film is nothing but melodrama that would be right at home on a daytime soap opera. Great period pieces transport the viewer to another time. “The Duchess” never does.

“The Duchess” threatens to become more than just a series of melodramatic revelations and awkward conversations between Georgiana and The Duke, but feels too much like people playing dress-up and not genuine. It’s just a series of pretty pictures shot by a director who doesn’t let his film breathe enough for the characters to become real to the audience.

Now, of course, those pretty pictures are all the more vibrant on Blu-Ray and Paramount presents the film in 1080p High Definition with a striking Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. “The Duchess” looks and sounds spectacular on Blu-Ray and I think audiences will actually warm to the film much more with its few strengths amplified by the next-gen format than they did in theaters.

As for special features, “The Duchess” Blu-Ray disappoints. All that Paramount includes are three lonely featurettes, “How Far She Went…Making the Duchess,” “Georgiana In Her Own Words,” and “Costume Diary”. It’s a lackluster collection for a woman and a movie that never did anything in moderation.

‘The Duchess’ is released by Paramount Home Video and stars Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, and Charlotte Rampling, and was written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Anders Thomas Jensen and Saul Dibb and directed by Dibb. It was released on December 28th, 2008.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing

TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Advertisement



HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter

archive

HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions
tracker