[Screen It]

 

"THE DUCHESS"
(2008) (Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy None Extreme Moderate Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Minor None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Extreme Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Married to a powerful Duke only to produce an heir, an 18th century Duchess must contend with her husband's infidelity as well as her growing attraction to another man.
PLOT:
It's 1774 and the Duke of Devonshire (RALPH FIENNES) is looking for a wife who will produce him a male heir, and he's set his sights on teenager Georgiana (KEIRA KNIGHTLEY), daughter of Lady Spencer (CHARLOTTE RAMPLING). The young woman eagerly accepts his proposal, easily forgoing her attraction to young, aspiring politician Charles Grey (DOMINIC COOPER).

Quickly married, the Duke wastes no time in trying to father a child, while Georgiana just as speedily settles into her prominent role, spending time with politicians such as Charles Fox (SIMON McBURNEY) and theater types such as playwright Richard Sheridan (AIDAN McARDLE).

It isn't long, however, before she learns of her husband's adulterous ways, including that he has a daughter by a servant who's since died, meaning it's now up to Georgiana to be her mother. Things become more complicated when Georgiana convinces the Duke to allow Bess Foster (HAYLEY ATWELL) to stay with him. She's a married mother whose husband has absconded with their children and she's now homeless. She and Georgiana become fast friends, that is, until the Duke sets his sights on her as well.

From that point on, and as she fails to produce a male heir for the increasingly impatient and adulterous Duke, Georgiana must contend with the related indignities of their marriage, as well as her growing attraction to Grey who's reentered her life.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're into period costume dramas, have an interest in the history behind the story and/or are fans of someone in the cast, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For sexual content, brief nudity and thematic material.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KEIRA KNIGHTLEY plays a teenager turned the Duchess of Devonshire who eagerly accepts the Duke's marriage proposal, but hates that there's no love in their attempts to produce a child. Politically ambitious and with a gambling habit, she must contend with the Duke's growing dissatisfaction with her, as well as his many affairs, and her own attraction to Grey when he returns into her life. She drinks and is intoxicated in one scene.
  • RALPH FIENNES plays her husband, the Duke who's only interested in her delivering a male heir to him. When that doesn't happen, he becomes increasingly impatient (including raping her at one point), and turns to even more adulterous ways, including with Bess despite knowing she's good friends with his wife.
  • DOMINIC COOPER plays an aspiring politician who returns into Georgiana's life and finds himself attracted to and then sleeping with her, despite her being married to the Duke who could ruin his career and life.
  • HAYLEY ATWELL plays a married mother who moves in to the palace after her husband absconds with their children. Despite becoming fast friends with Georgiana, she ends up having an affair with the Duke, all in hopes of using his influence to get her kids back.
  • CHARLOTTE RAMPLING plays Georgiana's mother who advises her not to rock the boat in terms of dealing with the Duke's adulterous ways.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this period drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of a handful of minor expletives, while non-explicit, but sexually related talk occurs. Several sexual encounters are partially seen or heard (including a woman on woman demonstration), as are varying amounts of cleavage and some nudity (full female rear), while a husband rapes his wife behind closed doors (we hear the violence).

    That only adds to tense family material that's already present, while various bad attitudes are also on display. Various characters drink (one to the point of intoxication), while there's brief smoking.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's a little bit of that from candle flicker.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's some bouncy camerawork from footage shot in and looking out of a moving carriage.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • The Duke and others have wine at a dinner/meeting, and a toast is raised and wine is consumed (including by Georgiana). Fox then jokes that it's easier to address friends when they're drunk.
  • The Duke holds a glass of wine when Georgiana catches him just after an adulterous affair.
  • The Duke and Georgiana have wine with a meal.
  • People drink at a party, including Fox and Sheridan.
  • Georgiana drinks wine while pregnant.
  • While Georgiana suffers from severe labor pains, Georgiana raises a toast in front of others about getting his heir.
  • People have wine at a reception, including Georgiana.
  • The Duke, Georgiana and Bess have wine with a meal.
  • People have drinks following Sheridan's latest play.
  • The Duke, Georgiana, Charles and others have wine at a reception.
  • People have wine at a reception where Georgiana stumbles in, intoxicated. She ends up bumping into a chandelier or something similar that falls to the floor, followed by her wig catching on fire (with someone finally grabbing that and throwing it to the floor, with a servant dousing that with wine).
  • People have drinks while gambling.
  • The Duke, Bess and Georgiana have wine with a meal.
  • Georgiana, Bess and the Duke have wine with a meal.
  • Georgiana and others have wine at a reception.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Fox talks about abolishing slavery, but when pressed by Georgiana, he says the freedom will only be in moderation. That prompts her to reply that freedom is an absolute, not something in between.
  • The Duke repeatedly cheats on Georgiana, including with Bess, her close friend.
  • Georgiana drinks wine while pregnant.
  • For those concerned about gambling, several scenes feature that activity.
  • While Georgiana suffers from severe labor pains, Georgiana raises a toast in front of others about getting his heir.
  • Bess says her husband is off enjoying his mistress elsewhere. We later learn that he beats her, and that he has taken their children.
  • About the Duke's affairs, Lady Spencer tells her daughter to give up gambling and politics and focus on producing an heir for him.
  • Georgiana is upset to see the Duke acting like a father toward Bess' three boys, especially when he has next to nothing to do with their daughters.
  • After Georgiana says she wants to strike a deal with the Duke (where he can have Bess as long as she can have Charles), he's very mad, saying he'll challenge Charles and put a bullet in his head. He then asks if she's Charles' "whore" and then follows her when she walks away. He then grabs and proceeds to rape her (we only see the beginning of that, but hear her disturbing screams throughout the manor).
  • The Duke refers to Bess' boys as "bastards."
  • Georgiana has an affair with Charles.
  • The Duke blackmails Georgiana to give up her affair with Charles, saying he'll not only destroy the younger man's career and life, but will also take Georgiana's children away from her. He tries to manipulate her further by giving her letters from her girls, but she tells him to leave. He says she's making the biggest mistake of her life, but she replies that she did that years ago (marrying him). After she reads one of those letters, she has a change of heart.
  • Georgiana announces that she's pregnant by Charles. The Duke then forces her to go off into the country to have the child that will then be given to Charles' family. We later see that very handoff that is very traumatic for Georgiana.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • After Georgiana says she wants to strike a deal with the Duke (where he can have Bess as long as she can have Charles), he's very mad, saying he'll challenge Charles and put a bullet in his head. He then asks if she's Charles' "whore" and then follows her when she walks away. He then grabs and proceeds to rape her (we only see the beginning of that, but hear her disturbing screams throughout the manor).
  • People have wine at a reception where Georgiana stumbles in, intoxicated. She ends up bumping into a chandelier or something similar that falls to the floor, followed by her wig catching on fire (with someone finally grabbing that and throwing it to the floor, with a servant dousing that with wine).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • We see the Duke giving one of Bess' young sons a demonstration of a rifle (no shots are fired).
  • After Georgiana says she wants to strike a deal with the Duke (where he can have Bess as long as she can have Charles), he's very mad, saying he'll challenge Charles and put a bullet in his head.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Are you his whore?" "So damn complicated," "Those damn speeches..." a possible "Hell in damnation," "Bastards," "Damn you, man" and "Pity be damned."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • One scene briefly features some suspenseful music.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 3 damns and 1 possible hell.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Bess shows abundant cleavage many times throughout the film, Georgiana a bit less so, and various miscellaneous women show varying amounts of cleavage in various scenes (all in period style outfits).
  • Following their marriage, the Duke starts to undress Georgiana and does so until she's standing before him fully nude (we don't see anything beyond her bare back and her holding her folded arms across her chest). He's then shirtless, climbs on top of her on the bed and they briefly kiss. She's apprehensive and then reacts in pain to the act, but the scene ends there.
  • The next day, Georgiana talks to her mom about such "intimate moments," with her mother saying it will get better but less determined on his part once Georgiana gives him a male heir. Georgiana then states that it would be better if he just talked to her.
  • Georgiana learns of her husband's adulterous ways when she spots a young woman scurrying from his quarters, holding something over her front, but we see her full rear nudity. When Georgiana enters the room, the Duke is reclined on the bed in a nightshirt. He then kisses Georgiana on her arm, with sex implied.
  • The Duke tells Georgiana that a young girl, Charlotte, will be living with them from now on, adding that she's now an orphan (Georgiana then realizes he fathered the girl with another woman before being married to Georgiana).
  • After commenting on Georgiana's pregnant (and clothed) belly, Fox makes a comment about his belly being on a woman an hour earlier.
  • A statue shows male full frontal nudity.
  • A painting (in the background of a scene, and out of focus) shows a reclining, bare-breasted woman.
  • Bess tells Georgiana that intercourse is not just about offspring, adding that it can be pleasurable. She then tells Georgiana to close her eyes and pretend that she (Bess) is Charles opening her dress and kissing her back. Bess then acts that out, lowering the top of Georgiana's dress, kissing the top of her bare back and neck before putting her hand somewhere inside Georgiana's dress, greatly arousing Georgiana. Bess stops, however, having proved her point.
  • Georgiana catches two servants eavesdropping on a sexual encounter between the Duke and Bess. Georgiana then hears the same (as does the viewer) and realizes what's happening.
  • Georgiana and Charles passionately kiss (clothed, standing and outside).
  • After Georgiana says she wants to strike a deal with the Duke (where he can have Bess as long as she can have Charles), he's very mad, saying he'll challenge Charles and put a bullet in his head. He then asks if she's Charles' "whore" and then follows her when she walks away. He then grabs and proceeds to rape her (we only see the beginning of that, but hear her disturbing screams throughout the manor).
  • We briefly see a male newborn's penis.
  • Georgiana and Charles passionately kiss, with some partial undressing. She then climbs on top of him and they have sex (mostly seen in a torso and up shot), with him then rolling over on top of her to continue. There's no nudity (she has on something like a slip or bed shirt, while he's shirtless and his pants are still on), but we see some movement and hear heavy breathing.
  • We see Georgiana and Charles lying in bed together, presumably post sex (he's shirtless and his pants are partially open). They then passionately kiss, but the scene ends.
  • SMOKING
  • We briefly see Fox smoking a cigar.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • The Duke tells Georgiana that a young girl, Charlotte, will be living with them from now on, adding that she's now an orphan (Georgiana then realizes he fathered the girl with another woman before being married to Georgiana).
  • Bess says her husband is off enjoying his mistress elsewhere. We later learn that he beats her, and that he has taken their children.
  • Georgiana mentions having two stillbirth miscarriages.
  • Georgiana catches two servants eavesdropping on a sexual encounter between the Duke and Bess. Georgiana then hears the same (as does the viewer) and realizes what's happening. When the Duke returns to their room, Georgiana is mad and demands that he make Bess leave, but he refuses.
  • About the Duke's affairs, Lady Spencer tells her daughter to give up gambling and politics and focus on producing an heir for him.
  • Georgiana is upset to see the Duke acting like a father toward Bess' three boys, especially when he has next to nothing to do with their daughters.
  • The Duke blackmails Georgiana to give up her affair with Charles, saying he'll not only destroy the younger man's career and life, but will also take Georgiana's children away from her. He tries to manipulate her further by giving her letters from her girls, but she tells him to leave. He says she's making the biggest mistake of her life, but she replies that she did that years ago (marrying him). After she reads one of those letters, she has a change of heart.
  • Georgiana announces that she's pregnant by Charles. The Duke then forces her to go off into the country to have the child that will then be given to Charles' family. We later see that very handoff that is very traumatic for Georgiana.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy and/or artistic license taken with the true story.
  • Arranged marriages.
  • How many women in the past were viewed simply as breeding machines, particularly for those desirous of male heirs.
  • How/why the late Princess Di was compared to Duchess Georgiana.
  • After the Duke asks why women's clothing has to be so complicated, Georgiana states that it's the only way for women to express themselves.
  • Fox talks about abolishing slavery, but when pressed by Georgiana, he says the freedom will only be in moderation. That prompts her to reply that freedom is an absolute, not something in between.
  • Georgiana drinks wine while pregnant.
  • Georgiana mentions having two stillbirth miscarriages.
  • Bess claims that she's having an affair with the Duke so that he'll use his power to get her children back. We then see her reunited with her three boys.
  • VIOLENCE
  • After Georgiana says she wants to strike a deal with the Duke (where he can have Bess as long as she can have Charles), he's very mad, saying he'll challenge Charles and put a bullet in his head. He then asks if she's Charles' "whore" and then follows her when she walks away. He then grabs and proceeds to rape her (we only see the beginning of that, but hear her disturbing screams throughout the manor).



  • Reviewed September 8, 2008 / Posted October 10, 2008

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2017 Screen It, Inc.