Home The Duke (Parent And Baby Screening)

The Duke (Parent And Baby Screening) (12A)

Cast: Dame Helen Mirren, Fionn Whitehead, Matthew Goode, Jim Broadbent
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): Clive Coleman, Richard Bean
Director: Roger Michell
Release Date: 25/02/2022
Running Time: 95mins
Country: UK
Year: 2020

Sixty-year-old taxi driver and aspiring scriptwriter Kempton Bunton lives in 1961 Newcastle-on-Tyne with his long-suffering housekeeper wife Dorothy. After he loses his job, Kempton travels to London with his latest script and he pays a visit to the National Gallery to look at Goya's painting of the Duke of Wellington. The portrait vanishes from the gallery. Kempton sends ransom notes demanding increased government investment in elderly care in exchange for the safe return of the canvas.


LondonNet Film Review
The Duke (12A)


Punishment doesn’t fit the crime in a crowd-pleasing comedy drama directed by the late Roger Michell, based on the outlandish true story of a daring art theft that made national headlines in March 1961. Nimbly scripted by Richard Bean and Clive Colman, The Duke is comfortingly old-fashioned and cosy fare, gifting Jim Broadbent a plum role as a twinkly-eyed, self-educated campaigner for social justice who would rather spend two weeks behind bars than pay for a TV licence that he believes should be free for OAPs…

The Oscar-winning actor pickpockets a convincing Newcastle accent – more so than some co-stars – and plies bountiful charm as an irascible everyman, who stands up for what he believes in, regardless of the potential embarrassment to his despairing wife, played by Dame Helen Mirren. They catalyse delightful screen chemistry, bickering about his reckless disregard for social niceties before he melts her frustration into laughter with an impromptu waltz around the front room.

Supporting characters are short-changed by Bean and Colman’s broad brushstrokes and the script’s portrait of life beneath the smoking chimney stacks of 1961 Newcastle-upon-Tyne is entirely predictable. However, it’s hard to resist a good-humoured tonic for the soul that slips down as smoothly as a bottle of brown ale.

Sixty-year-old aspiring BBC scriptwriter Kempton Bunton (Broadbent) lives with his long-suffering housekeeper wife Dorothy (Mirren). Recently released from prison for refusing to pay for a TV licence, Kempton struggles to hold down a job at a local bakery, while Dorothy diligently tends to the needs of her sympathetic employer, Mrs Gowling (Anna Maxwell Martin). Watching the TV that secured him a 13-day spell behind bars, Kempton is enraged by a news report about the National Gallery in London using £140,000 of taxpayers’ money to keep Francisco Goya’s portrait of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, in the country.

He fervently believes the money should have been spent on war widows and pensioners rather than a “half-baked portrait by some Spanish drunk”. Soon after, Kempton travels to London with his latest submission for the BBC. That night, the portrait vanishes from the National Gallery and police boldly proclaim the heist to be the work of “a highly professional, criminal gang”. Little do they know that the prized canvas is concealed in a wardrobe in Kempton’s terraced home.

The Duke stands accused of crimes against originality but Michell’s feelgood picture confidently sets out the case for leniency to the same roars of approval from the gallery that greet Kempton’s straight-talking defence of his actions. The script becomes overly sentimental for its closing argument but our sympathy and affection are wholeheartedly with Broadbent’s working-class warrior by this point.

– Jo Planter



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UK and Irish Cinemas Showing The Duke (Parent And Baby Screening)


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To: Thursday 19th May

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To: Thursday 26th May

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