I've had it on my Netflix instant queue for a while now but I had been hesitant about watching it because I wasn't sure if I'd like a period movie. I finally watched it yesterday and I have to say, I really enjoyed it.
The topic wasn't new: young girl marries into wealth. The marriage is loveless and the husband unfaithful (and straight up disrespectful). Wife is dutiful but eventually decides to try to carve out some happiness of her own by having an affair of her own. Husband won't stand for it and threatens her physically and emotionally. Wife either gets back in line or risks losing it all.
I'm aware that there have been some cultures throughout history where women were just as valued and powerful as men but those cultures are in the minority. Speaking strictly as a Westerner, it really made me appreciate how far we as women have come in terms of being able to feel fully human. The fact that we control so much of our own destiny is amazing especially when you look at how much a woman's life was out of her control just a few centuries ago. And even now, all this time later women are not completely empowered. We are still struggling for equality and justice. But a movie like The Duchess really does give some perspective.
I think Keira Knightly did a fantastic job playing Georgina. We see a woman who knows and understands that she is not free but who is powerless to do anything about it. Maybe this is the worst kind of suffering--when you don't know that things should be different, it doesn't hurt as much. At one point, Georgina says that the only way women have to express themselves is through designing their dresses (which makes you wonder how terrible it was for poor women who probably didn't even have this outlet available to them). We sympathize with her frustration and pain. Knightly makes Georgina very real.
And the costumes and set! It was just very beautiful to watch. I mean, really beautiful. This was one of the best things about the movie.
Oh, and it wasn't too long. I can't take long movies. It wasn't drawn out. Dramatic without being overly so. Just a good movie. I recommend it.