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The Duchess Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Keira Knightley, who I’m pretty sure isn’t even a very good actress, is someone I will watch in just about anything on screen for reasons I can’t explain... Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Instead of scintillation, the movie gives us a succession of discrete set pieces, as if the action takes place in rooms but not in the halls connecting them.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Keira Knightley is a terrific choice to play the 18th century socialite.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Princess Diana's antecedent, both genetically and figuratively, was a beautiful and glamorous duchess named Georgiana Spencer. Like her descendant, her charm and vivacity captivated England.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Fiennes speaks with his body what the script cannot formulate about what it's like to be a man apart. The actor creates particulars of time, space, class, and personality with one crook of a finger, one twist of a wrist. I call that nobility of craft; he's the actors' prince.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Period drama delves into some heavy themes.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this serious period drama stars Keira Knightley, it's not all that likely to appeal to teens since it explores the inner workings of a very flawed marriage -- one that's marred by infidelity and disloyalty and complicated by a menage a trois. There's an upsetting scene in which a man forces himself on a woman, as well as some nudity and passionate embracing. Also expect plenty of gambling and drinking, mostly at joyous events though sometimes during times of despair. At one point, a main character imbibes so much that she upends a chandelier and accidentally sets fire to her wig.

  • Families can talk about what it was like to be a woman during the time in which the movie takes place. How much power did women have in the 1700s? Is the arrangement that the duchess suggests to her husband a fair one? The film depicts a number of revolutions under way, including the beginnings of the women's movement. Do you think it's all historically accurate? How could you find out? Also, do you think this drama is any different from other period dramas in feel or look? How so?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: A man treats his wife like property, insisting that she provide him with a male heir. He also ignores their daughters and insists on keeping a mistress and flaunting her under his wife's nose.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A man forces himself on a woman in a brutal scene, though there's no blood or injury. She's clearly affected by it and appears shell shocked afterward. Some threats are made between characters, there's some yelling, and a little boy is shown handling a firearm. Some discussion of wife-beating after a woman is shown with bruises on her skin.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Some scenes of couplings/simulated sex in which both men and women are nude, though viewers don't see genitalia. Additional scenes hint at sex by training the camera on a door, behind which there's much moaning and rustling. A woman caresses another woman. There's also an unusual relationship in which two women share a man. Briefly, a woman is sighted leaving a man's bedroom, her naked backside showing.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Lots of drinking, mostly at social events. Some characters drink to excess.