Sunday, January 04, 2009


Keira dons period garb again

By Edward Copeland
I wonder: At this point in her career is Keira Knightley capable of playing a role set in the 21st century? Then again, if it keeps her making films as passable as The Duchess and out of junk such as Bend It Like Beckham, who am I to offer her career advice?

I didn't expect a lot from The Duchess and was watching it mainly because the waiters and the florists nominated Ralph Fiennes for supporting actor for it. So it was with a great deal of surprise that I found The Duchess as watchable and enjoyable as I did.

Knightley, aka "Ben Lyons' future bride," is quite good as the title character, an 18th century woman who at the urging of her mother (the always good Charlotte Rampling) enters into a marriage (more like a deal) with the Duke of Devonshire (Fiennes) to provide him a male heir, only he's a cold, uncommunicative sort, made worse by the fact that her womb keeps producing females.

Fiennes is quite good. It would have been easy to make the duke into a standard villain given the way the duke treats his wife but Fiennes manages to make him a three-dimensional character that you even have some sympathy for when he's at his worst, keeping the duchess from her true love, the non-nobleman and rising politician Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper).

While Fiennes is great and deserving of his Golden Globe nomination, I'm surprised that with the three nominations the HFPA gave the great In Bruges, they didn't pick him for his great supporting work as the eccentric crime boss in that one.

Period dramas can often end up being as stiff as the corsets the women wear, but The Duchess is livelier than most.

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Maybe Keira Knightley is this generation's version of Helena Bonham Carter.
As much as I do respect and like Keira, she still is miles away from Mrs. Bonham Carter.

Perhaps someday in the future, but certainly not now.
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