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Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 04:03 pm

The Duchess: A portrait of strength under pressure

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The Duchess Running Time 1:49 PG-13 Parkway Pointe

British historians have referred to Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, as the country's first media star and it's easy to see why. Having married the Duke of Devonshire at the age of 17, she soon showed that she was mature beyond her years in managing matters of the royal court, was not afraid to speak her mind and reveled in displaying dresses of her own making, which helped establish the fashion of her time. The more sordid aspects of her soap opera life also helped keep her in the public eye and made her an object of fascination long after her death.

In The Duchess, Keira Knightley gives an astonishing performance, going from a bubbly young girl to a weary but unrepentant woman who endures repression and emotional abuse that would have killed someone weaker. Having to endure her husband's (Ralph Fiennes) frequent affairs, the indignation of having one of his lover's (Hayley Atwell) live with them and being separated from her beloved Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), Georgiana's life was one of constant turmoil. However, this film shows her as a woman far ahead of her times, often pragmatic but never weak, and always true to her convictions. Knightley and company infuse this film with life, making it far more than just a dry history lesson but a rousing testament to independence and strength.

Body of Lies Running Time 2:08 Rated R ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

Ridley Scott's labyrinthine Body of Lies is often as convoluted and confusing as our country's current situation in the Middle East and that's just the way the director wants it. Russell Crowe is Ed Hoffman, a CIA bigwig who runs various global intelligence operations from the comfort of his Washington, D.C., home. When he's not manipulating agents via satellite feeds like pieces on a chessboard, he's taking his kids to soccer games. However, Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is one of his men on the ground and he experiences firsthand the danger that Hoffman puts him in, resenting that he is often not given all of the information he requires for success.

This cat and mouse game is a good one, as these two finds themselves working towards the same goal but often using different methods. While Hoffman is able to stay emotionally detached, Ferris can't because he sees the toll his actions take. The film takes a while to find its footing but once Ferris finds himself using Hoffman's methods to make an innocent architect look like a terrorist mastermind, Lies sharply points out that the highest price we pay in war is the sacrifice of our moral code.

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