While it's quite routine for big "Oscar-bait" films to cause sharp divisions among critics/audiences, it's not quite as often that the same happens for performances. This makes Keira Knightley's performance in September's "The Duchess" something of an oddity. For a while, early word of mouth had been solid, yet yesterday two new reviews of the movie hit, and they weren't fans of either the movie or Knightley:
"Keira Knightley acquits herself capably, though it's not much of a stretch or progression following on from her strong performance in Atonement. "
"Production values are sumptuous, but the narrative is mind-numbingly predictable. You've seen the trailer, you've seen the film. The supporting perfs are okay. It's always great to see Charlotte Rampling, but Dominic Cooper has a serious case of the David Beckhams. Looks great, and then he opens his mouth.
"It'll make money. Women and girls will probably dig it. But anyone who has the film on their Oscar charts needs to arrange a revision, aside, perhaps, for the pretty costumes."
-- from Hollywood Elsewhere.com
''The clinical approach to the casting is also being replicated in the drive to get Knightley an Oscar nomination for the performance. It would be entirely unmerited, considering that this is a below-par turn from the actress..."
- from The Independent
And then, to add to the confusion, a friend of mine informs me that her friend (who is involved with the upcoming Toronto Film Festival) told her that Knightley is fantastic. Interesting to see how bitter sides will both get when the movie goes into wide release on September 12th...