Film Review: The Duke | The week Great Britain
I could probably watch this old-fashioned comedy “all day, every day, for the rest of my life,” Deborah Ross said in The audience. Directed by the late Roger Michell (of notting hill fame), it chronicles the infamous theft of Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in 1961 and stars Jim Broadbent as Kempton Bunton, the idealistic Newcastle cab driver who claimed to have committed the brazen crime.
The film is “wonderfully funny” but also “thoughtful and tender”; If you don’t find Bunton – the “ordinary guy asked to do an extraordinary thing” – “lovable” from the start, I will “refund your ticket”.
This warm and funny film has “the flavor of a classic Ealing caper,” said Robbie Collin The Daily Telegraph. Broadbent and Helen Mirren, who plays Bunton’s wife, have rarely been better. And while the film isn’t afraid to “go wide — a stirring sequence is set to the anthem Jerusalem, for heaven’s sake” — it touches on serious issues (such as how institutions should serve the people who fund them); and its subtlety “often catches you off-guard.”
There are moments when the “workers’ aristocracy” gets a little thick, said Brian Viner Daily Mail: We see Bunton taking a stand against racism and being fired as a cab driver for waiving the fare for a war veteran; but Broadbent “keeps it genuine at every turn and manages a passable Geordie accent to boot,” while Mirren, who’s both dowdy and downtrodden and elegantly haughty, is a “superb foil.”
Though she’s often upset about her “poster-waving husband,” we never doubt the depth of their love. For what has proven to be his swan song, Michell has given us a truly “beautiful film”.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/film/955972/film-review-the-duke Film Review: The Duke | The week Great Britain