Box art for The Duchess

The Duchess


The movie explores the marriage, relationships, and passions of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 15
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
0 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

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.

what families can talk about

  • 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?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 28
    see all The Duchess reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: It isn't just eye candy; there's an active intelligence behind this design.

- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle, Friday, September 26, 2008


- Ben Kenigsberg, Time Out, Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fresh: There's something really special about Kiera Knightly in these period pieces.

- Ben Lyons, At the Movies, Friday, November 7, 2008

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Excellent movie based on true events of the Duchess of Devonshire. She is wed into a loveless marriage to provide a male heir. She is intelligent and beautiful and attracts much attention. But for the sake of her children, gives up her true love. Amazing costumes and settings. This is Keira's best performance. Some of the movie was shot in Chatsworth, which is where the real Duchess lived. I've visited it and they have 'The Duchess' display, along with a display for 'Pride and Prejudice' where some scenes were also filmed.

- thmtsang, Monday, March 1, 2010

3 stars

It's easy to see why Keira Knightley is drawn to so many movies with a historical slant; she's good at them. If she was sent back in time to historical England, she'd probably fit right in. She certainly has the necessary experience, and she looks good in the dresses and wigs. The main problem with The Ducjess isn't Keira, the other actors, or the grand palaces and beautiful English locales that serve as the setting. It's the title character herself, who's written to be a bit too plucky and familiar. Yes, I get that she's a woman who's smarter than many of the powerful men that surround her, and yes, I sympathize with her when her idealism and navet meet the unyeilding wall of the real world. But these things have been done to death, and the story is incredibly predictable as a result. I'm waiting for one of these movies to spin the genre on its head...there has to be a way to keep them somewhat historically accurate, while discarding the constantly re-used plot devices. You know what you're getting here, and you probably know whether you'll like it or not. Just don't expect anything more than a slightly above-average example of the genre.

- lewiskendell, Sunday, February 14, 2010

3 stars

Terribly beautiful in terms of period detail, but too upsetting for me to love, though the performances are good.

- newvogueravyn, Sunday, July 26, 2009