Sunday, November 2, 2008
Keira Knightley keeps getting better
Keira Knightley is still really young considering the blockbusters and Oscar nominees she's been part of so far in her career. And, in my opinion, she keeps getting better. She was captivating in Atonement, showing her skills rather than just pouting her lips. She was perfectly fine in the two sequels to Pirate's of the Caribbean, though her character became more ridiculous (I thought her career might be over after she spent most of the third movie in pointy shoes). She probably deserved her Oscar nomination for Pride and Prejudice, though I really disliked the remake. However, her recent performance in The Duchess is fantastic. The movie follows the story of Georgiana, becoming the Duchess of Devonshire, wife of the most powerful, if somewhat short-sighted, member of the political party rising to prominence in 1774. Georgiana's sole duty as his wife is produce a male heir, and keep at it until she does. The Duke (quite a few years her elder) has the love-making skills of a horse, and while Georgiana conceives, a son eludes her. Meanwhile, she has become beloved by the rest of the social scene, and one of the most fashionable, intelligent, influential women in the country. She makes friends with Lady Elizabeth Foster, who comes to live with the Duke and Duchess. Ultimately, the Duke decides he likes Bess better, but continues to torture Georgiana's bed to get his son. Lots of mini-scandal occurs, carefully hidden, but obvious given some of Ralph Fiennes strange acting choices. So Bess, the Duke, the Duchess, and their kids live on together. The story is incredibly well-told, and it's hard to miss the ties to the current political climate, as well as to current celebrity status. Just after their wedding, the Duke and Duchess ride through town as people watch, trying to catch a glimpse through the carriage. Georgiana was a distant relative of the late Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, and it's hard to miss the similiarities, though the story holds well on its own. The costumes are fantastic, the set dressings impressive (I never understood why women's dressing tables had the weird little chairs with no back, but when you see how the dresses get in the way, it starts to make sense) and overall the world is carefully and fully created. Keira Knightley fills the screen every time she appears and leads the movie with terrific emotion and strength. 4 of 5 stars/LAMBS.
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