Is there a period piece that Keira Knightley isn’t in? In The Duchess she plays real-life Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire, who married into extreme wealth when she said yes to the Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes).
The Duchess soon grows tired of her loveless marriage to a man that resents her for not being able to deliver a male heir. Her big costumes and bigger hair excite a nation and get the attention of old flame Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper). The two start a passionate affair, but only after Georgiana’s best friend Bess (Hayley Atwell) begins sleeping with the Duke.
It’s all pretty familiar, although I was interested to find out that the Duchess is a very distant relative of Princess Di. But for the most part, The Duchess relies on its lavish costumes and set pieces to tell the story. It helps that powerful performances from Knightley, Fiennes and Atwell keep things going. But in missing this, you aren’t missing anything new. B-