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The Duchess [2008] [PG-13] - 7.5.1



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Period piece taking place in 18th century England, with Keira Knightley as a young English woman, barely out of her teens, who is chosen by a prominent Duke (Ralph Fiennes) to become his wife and producer of male heirs. Not long after they marry she discovers that he is being unfaithful to her. It becomes impossible for her to tolerate his dalliances when she discovers that he is having an affair with her only friend and he insists that she move in with them. Based on a true story. Also with Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, Simon McBurney, Aidan McArdle, John Shrapnel and Alistair Petrie. Directed by Saul Dibb. [1:45]

SEX/NUDITY 7 - A husband and wife yell at each other angrily, the wife leaves the room followed by the husband, he confronts her in the bedroom, pushes her back on the bed (she screams and struggles), and he rapes her (we hear screaming from outside the door, and people in the house hear the screaming but do nothing to help her).
 A man and a woman have sex: we see him bare-chested and she wears an undergarment dress and stockings that reveal her bare thighs, they lie on a bed, she climbs on top of him, she thrusts, they kiss, he rolls her over and he thrusts on her.
 A husband undresses his wife, (we see her bare back and buttocks while her arms are crossed over her bare breasts), he asks her to get into bed, he undresses (we see his bare chest), he climbs on top of her, they kiss, and he thrusts while she whimpers.
 A woman approaches her bedroom and hears moaning and giggling, a nude woman comes out of the room (we see her bare back and buttocks as she rushes away), the woman enters the room and finds her husband in the bed drinking wine (it is implied that he and the other woman have had sex). A woman approaches her bedroom door and hears her husband having sex with another woman (we hear rhythmic moaning).
 A woman sits behind another woman on a bed and as she demonstrates, tells her to close her eyes and imagine that she is a man who is unfastening her dress and kisses her shoulder and neck; the woman moans and breathes heavily, then she reaches between her legs, stops and leaves the room.
 A husband kisses his wife's hand and arm, he pulls her close to him and it is implied that they have sex. A man and a woman lie in bed talking and snuggling, they kiss and it is implied that they have sex.
 We see a nude infant boy (his genitals are exposed). Women wear low-cut period dresses that reveal cleavage in many scenes throughout the movie.
 A man and a woman kiss passionately. Men and women dance together in a few celebration scenes.
 A woman tells her married daughter that sex is simply a way to provide her husband with an heir and is a nuisance that will go away after she does provide the heir. A woman talks to a man about her daughter being a good choice for him as a wife and touts the family's ability to produce heirs. A man makes a remark about "My belly was on a woman not long ago" (implying sex).

VIOLENCE/GORE 5 - A husband and a wife yell at each other angrily, the wife leaves the room followed by the husband, he confronts her in the bedroom, pushes her back on the bed (she screams and struggles), and he rapes her (we hear screaming from outside the door, and people in the house hear the screaming but do nothing to help her).
 A woman who appears to be drunk stumbles into a room where many people are dancing, she begins to dance, backs into a candelabra, her wig catches on fire, she screams and twirls around, someone knocks the wig off her head and she falls to the floor (she's OK).
 We see a bruise on a woman's neck and she says that her husband had beaten her with a stick. A man threatens to put a bullet in another man's head. A wife confronts and yells at her husband. A man threatens to destroy another man's life. A woman screams while in labor. A woman talks about sacrificing anything for her children. A woman talks about her husband not allowing her to see her children. A woman talks about having miscarriages. We hear that a man won't acknowledge his children, who are female. A woman remarks about a child being "only a girl."
 A woman hands her infant child over to a man, she then screams and collapses as he leaves with the child.

PROFANITY 1 - 4 mild obscenities, name-calling (fool). [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - People drink alcohol and smoke cigars while playing cards, people drink wine in several dinner and party scenes throughout the movie and in one scene a woman appears to be drunk. People drink sulphur water in several scenes.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Nobility, arranged marriages, infidelity, sacrifice, rape, spousal abuse, social standing, scandal, duty, patience, spontaneity, salvation, love, disappointment, regret, slave trade, freedom, gambling, fortitude, the Whig Party, the Tory party.

MESSAGE - Choices we make, which may initially seem to make sense, can prove to be regrettable. Many sacrifices are made for one's children.

Special Keywords: S7 - V5 - P1 - MPAAPG-13

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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