Some films only have on goal in mind – to wrap you up in their warm, cosy embrace as the rain of life batters the windows of your soul. The Duke, the penultimate film from the late Roger Michell, is one of those films.
This charming Sunday afternoon fodder recounts the unbelievable true story of Kempton Bunton (a particularly loveable Jim Broadbent), an elderly public transport worker who made headlines around the world when he managed to steal Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London, holding it for ransom – claiming he will return the painting on the condition that the TV license is scrapped for the elderly.
The sweet and gentle comedy is a timely and uplifting feel-good caper that brings this too-good-to-be-true tale to life, and although there is nothing particularly remarkable about any of the filmmaking itself, it’s hard not to be swept up in The Duke’s joyous message and winning performances by Broadbent and Helen Mirren. This is one of those Brit flicks that is heavy on Brit, evoking a sense of cinematic national pride and proof that we surely know better than anyone else how to make something so bloody warm-hearted and entertaining.
The Duke is an endlessly charming romp and a poignant farewell to filmmaker Roger Michell.