The Duchess

  • 12
  • Saul Dibb (2008)
  • UK / Fr / It / US
  • 105 min
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Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

Much has been made of the parallels between the lives of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806), and her descendant Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. Both were young newlyweds when they entered high society, and both were required to please a devoted public and a cheating husband. Thankfully, this historical drama is not a frivolous adaptation of the bestselling biography by Amanda Foreman, and Keira Knightley - as well as having the air of an English rose - displays great dignity in portraying Georgiana's frustration with her lot. Still, it's disappointing that Saul Dibb (who directed Bullet Boy) only skims the surface of the lady's political life. This movie is a study of a conventional romantic heroine and the intrigues that compromised her marriage, rather than an examination of a woman whose radical views encouraged her to actively campaign for the government opposition (and led to an affair with future Prime Minister Charles Grey). Unfortunately, this approach also results in Ralph Fiennes, as her philandering husband, coming across as something of a pantomime villain.

Plot Summary

Historical drama starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. Following a marriage arranged by her mother, 17-year-old Georgiana Spencer looks forward to a privileged existence as the wife of the much older Duke of Devonshire. She soon discovers, however, that her aloof husband is more interested in his dogs and sleeping with the maids than sharing her company, and that her only purpose in life is to provide him with a male heir.

Cast and crew


Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
Keira Knightley
Duke of Devonshire
Ralph Fiennes
Hayley Atwell
Lady Spencer
Charlotte Rampling
Charles Grey
Dominic Cooper
Charles James Fox
Simon McBurney
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Aidan McArdle


Saul Dibb

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Sex scenes, brief nudity
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 5 Sep 2008
Certificate 12
Pathe Distribution