Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Duchess (2008, PG-13)

Submitted by David

This is a story of sexual and emotional collisions amidst English politics of the late 18th century. The experiences could fit in the 20th century, or even the 21st, current gender politics and sexuality notwithstanding. While sexual desire and intimation is evident everywhere (the clothes are titillating enough), sex is not generously given or gratefully accepted. What a shame.

Georgiana, soon to be Duchess of Devonshire (Keira knightly) is but 17 when betrothed to the older Duke (Ralph Fiennes – fittingly Voldemort in Harry Potter films.) Other than arranging marriage, he hardly woos her, nor makes love, in any of their couplings. She is the vessel to produce a son. He is inclined toward other sexual exploits.

Lady Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell) is one such object. Bess and Georgiana become friends after Bess rebuffs the Duke’s advances at a social gathering. In time, and with grace and affection, Bess brings Georgiana to orgasm. Bess also reawakens Georgiana’s affection toward a male friend of her youth (Charles Grey, played by Dominic Cooper) who is emerging as a politician. But the Duke eventually has his way with Bess.

Georgiana finally produces a son, after a string of daughters and still-born boys.
She then obtains an interlude away from the household and becomes a lover, at last, with Charles, but much else worsens and overtakes. Years go by and Duke and Duchess find and reinforce a trace of affection, probably based on difficulties shared, material necessity, and political expedience.

The film invites reflection on the life of Diana of Wales, ended by a 1997 auto crash. Leaving that there, the sets, clothes, musical scores, supporting cast, and a host of extras, make The Duchess well worth viewing for 110 minutes.

No comments: