- Colin Fraser
FOUR STARS Who would suspect an old man of stealing a famous painting? Well, no one actually. COMEDY DRAMA UK #THEDUKE
Starring Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren
It starts like a joke. “An old man walks into an art gallery and steals a famous painting. He says he’ll only give it back if the government stops charging pensioners for their TV licence.” Then what? Well, find out in the late Roger Michell’s terrific comedy drama about a lone-wolf pensioner who nicks a Goya from London’s National Gallery. True story! He’ll return the masterpiece once the government does something for old people. His audacious theft became the talk of the nation and naturally the establishment weren’t going to take it lying down. Thing is, the establishment was busy looking for a rogue 007 with an eye for art and had certainly didn’t suspect some old geezer ‘from up north’. True story!
The film’s splendid lighting and production design speaks to a shop-soiled and unfair Britain that Jim Broadbent’s (MOULIN ROUGE) Kempton Bunton (real name, true story!) is railing against. His long suffering wife arrives in a broad outline of fixed-perm and horn-rimmed glasses thanks to a splendidly restrained performance by Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN). She and her onscreen son (Fionn Whitehead (DUNKIRK)) generously give the limelight to Broadbent’s brash, heartfelt performance, one that goes on to earn the dignified lump it leaves in our throats.
The director of NOTTING HILL has crafted a delight from start to finish. One part courtroom drama and two parts crowd-pleaser, this thoroughly entertaining romp hits every note squarely. Michell works from a sparkling script that crackles and pops with wit and affection and it would take a heard heart not to be charmed by the earnestness of Bunton’s plans. It’s the kind of heist movie that’s been so tenderly and expertly crafted that by the time you reach the unanticipated ending, you’ll find the experience as seductive as a cup of tea and chocolate biscuit.