Star fever is clearly rampant in the case of Keira Knightley. Despite the fact that in Atonement many of the serious critics rather thought she was put in the shade by James McAvoy something I'm in agreement with. Her global reception is quite extraordinary with over 9.2 million Google hits on an initial search (21 / 07/ 08). This means that researching this there is a lot of drivel to search through however this does make me think that things haven't moved on from Adorno's day in the Culture Industry when it comes to film stars. But Walsh in the Independent thinks that this is perhaps her best performance yet:
Knightley gives Vera an independence and complexity that's aeons ahead of the spunky pirate babe Elizabeth Swann or the crosspatch aristocrat Cecilia Tallis in Atonement. (Walsh, Independent, 19 / 06 / 08)
The Times online carries a story about how Knightley's mother is rejecting rumours being spread about whether Keira has anorexia or not. Nowadays star status means instant commentary whizzing around the internet. For a woman actor is appears as though their body is their primary asset. Take Walsh's comments from the Independent which create a discourse of 'sexiness' around a star:
Keira Knightley's astounding physiognomy.....Within 20 seconds, every male heart on the platform (and in the cinema) becomes her devoted slave, as her eyes and lips and hair and skin and voice construct a sensory web of enchantment. (Ibid)
The way the comment is phrased is a fine example of what Laura Mulvey has described as the 'male gaze' which, if we extend the concept beyond the confines of the cinema itself to the critical and fan community, shows us how a discourse of a star can be maintained. whether or not she can act seems besides the point.
Bend it like Beckham
Parminder Nagra & Keira Knightley in Bend it Like Beckham (2002). Gurinder Chadha
Pirates of the Caribbean
Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom in The Pirates of the Caribbean series
Kiera Knightley & Johnny Depp in The Pirates of the Caribbean series
Pride & Prejudice
Keira Knightley & Matthew MacFadyen as Mr Darcy in Pride & Prejudice. 2005 Dir: Joe Wright
The Edge of Love
Kiera Knightley & Sienna Miller in The Edge of Love (2008) Dir: John Maybury
The Duchess 2008
...but the film is let down by a central performance from Knightley which overly emphasises her increasingly-annoying tendency to let her lips do the acting - tightly pursed equals unhappy or determined, open means `look at me, aren't I vivacious'.(Manchester Evening News Review of The Duchess)
Facing Fiennes, the junior cast, like lambs to the slaughter, go to pieces. Knightley gives great profile (just as she gave great close-up in Edge of Love); Dominic Cooper plays her lover, Charles Grey, as a one-note automaton; while Haley Atwell’s strumpet Bess is wonderful at saucy stares but struggles with the spoken word. In short, Fiennes: 4, Kids: Nil. (Timesonline Review of Duchess)
Filmography (British films)
Year of Production
||Country of Production
|Bend it Like Beckham
|Pride and Prejudice
||Joe Wright||Working Title
|Edge of Love
Keira Knightley's mother Sharman MacDonald on being the scriptwriter of The Edge of Love
Guardian: Wollaston interview with Knightley (Aug 2008): Not especially deep and meaningful. Clearly part of the film's pre-release marketing strategy.
Telegraph article on Knightley's agreement to play in intimate scenes in The Duchess and her attitude to nude acting in general.
BBC Woman's Hour Knightley Interview (Currently available on Listen Again)
Daily Mail interview with Knightley. Discusses her dyslexia and lack of education as she dropped out of colege before taking A levels.
Timesonline. Knightley interview. Says wants to drop acting as pressure too great. (2007)