Based on the novel by celebrated writer Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden), this is the story of the educated but penniless Emily (Lydia Wilson). During her duties as a lady’s companion for Lady Maria (Joanna Lumley), she meets her employer’s wealthy widower nephew, Lord James Walderhurst (Linus Roache). Accepting his practical if unromantic marriage proposal, Emily finds solace in the company of Walderhurst’s nephew Alec Osborn (James D’Arcy) and his glamorous wife, Hester (Hasina Haque), after Lord James leaves to rejoin his regiment. Emily, alone with the Osborns, increasingly comes under their control. She begins to fear for her life.
This was such a great gothic thriller. I could not get enough of this movie and I’ve watched it several times.
Here’s what’s going on. Emily was a lady’s companion for Lady Maria but she’s been let go and now she’s penniless and in need of a job. Lord James Walderhurst, the nephew of Lady Maria, is a widower in need of an heir to ensure his inheritance so proposing to Emily seems to be the practical solution. Although when Lord James decides to go back to India on a military campaign his nephew, Alec Osborn, and his wife, Hester, moves in with Emily.
At first, Emily finds the pair enjoyable until she realizes she’s pregnant and soon it seems that the Osborns are controlling her home and her life. Fearing she’s in danger, she must fight for her life and that of her unborn child.
Oh, this was such a good movie. Very macabre and gothic. Emily was such a meek little thing yet when push comes to shove, she pushes back with all her might. She kind of reminded me of Jane Eyre, tiny and penniless yet with an unbreakable spirit. Her marriage to Lord James seemed a bit out of place—given her station— and rushed—given that they didn’t really know each other—, yet he knew she was fully capable of managing a household and he was in desperate need of an heir. So, I guess needs must.
Lord James kind of crawled under my skin a bit. He just married the woman, put her in charge of his household, then rushed off to India leaving her alone with two servants who feel as though she’s out-of-place usurper. It wasn’t a love match, but come on, he could have acted a bit more decently and made sure she was going to be okay while he went off to war.
Alec and his wife were so creepy. They seemed normal at first then Alec begins acting strangely and then people start disappearing. It was obvious that he was going to be a problem but I was never sure where his wife stood. One moment, I thought she was normal. The next moment, I thought she was a couple playing cards short of full deck. Then her mother comes, and oh my goodness does the crazy roll out.
I thought they done a brilliant job casting the characters. None of the actors felt out of place and they truly had me believing in the roles that they were playing. The cinematography was brilliant as well and completely captured the gothic atmosphere.
My only complaint about this one was how abrupt the ending felt. The entire movie had a nice suspenseful pace and then ending felt as though it was over in the blink of an eye. They could have easily added another thirty minutes to the film to give it a nice round feel.
Overall, I loved this movie. It was gothic done right and had me riveted to my seat as the madness unfolded.
The Making of a Duchess is based on the 1901 novel The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I haven’t read the book, but I will be doing so shortly.
Have you read the book?
Watched the movie?
Are you a fan of gothic fiction?