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Film Critics: Today, December 18, winners from Rolling Stone magazine, PhoenixCC, UtahFCA, Kansas CityFCC and St. LouisFCA. Nominations from VancouverFCC.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Duchess


The second Saul Dibb feature film surely is entertaining as costume drama that I believe will please many women, as the way writers approached the story becomes a compelling woman story that could engage female viewers with disbelief, rage and many other emotions. But for me it was way too predictable even when I was not aware of the real life story of the Duchess of Devonshire and I was not able to really engage myself with the events they show, as they felt like a succession of not engaging situations rushed to reach an end.

But after I started to read about the movie and about the real Duchess of Devonshire I totally understood why I was not able to engage with the story told. See, real life Duchess had a very interesting life as a powerful woman that was more popular than his husband the Duke. In the movie there is nothing that suggest the Duchess power and as a matter of fact presents her as a weak woman that had no strong personality and bended to her husband impositions with no more apparent reason but her weak personality; as such, the story is quite melodramatic and if it wasn’t for the fabulous costumes, sets and Ralph Fiennes performance I probably would have been bored by the story. Also, there was one moment in the movie that I thought that Keira Knightley has been doing too many period movies with characters that started to look the same, as she tends to perform them similarly.

I’m really sorry that the screenplay co written by Dibb didn’t balanced better her personal life with her public and more interesting life, as perhaps the character will not only be more engaging but also Knightley could have play it with more depth as she goes from being an innocent 16-years-old to a popular public figure within the British government and royalty.

As a movie somehow shows that is Dibb’s second feature as his role as a director/co writer was not relevant enough to obtain compelling performances by Knightley and other actors, among other things. The only exception is Ralph Fiennes that with very little dialogue and almost all acting done with his body postures and face expressions becomes totally mesmerizing to watch, even when his character is not a likeable one. One of the greatest performances by this fine actor, but then he has many others as superb as this one.

I know that some of you will totally disagree with me, while others perhaps will agree; if this happens we will be reproducing the behavior of viewers and critics’ that are split with some liking the movie a lot and others feeling that is missing “something” to say it kindly.

The main reason this movie has created much buzz is because The Duchess of Devonshire is none other than Georgina Spencer, an ancestor of Diana Spencer (Lady Di) and in real life there are many similarities in their lives, not only living a three people marriage but also both being more popular than their husbands. I believe that producers and writers lost a great opportunity to tell a more compelling story when they had many more interesting material to play around with.

Still I did enjoyed Ralph Fiennes performance, the great costumes, and the amazing sets; and well, for entertainment purposes I do recommend the movie, but I remind all that if it wasn’t for the high production values, the story and movie could have well be a made-for-TV melodrama.

Enjoy.

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