The Duke | Film critic


True story. Kempton Bunton (Jim Broadbent) was a taxi driver and soapbox revolutionary who, much to the chagrin of his long-suffering wife (Helen Mirren), dabbled in various minor socialist causes, chief among them being the mandatory BBC license fee in Britain. He even did a bit of jail time for his broadcasting beliefs (they can do that in Britain, you NHK scofflaws).

In 1961, furious that the government was spending £140,000 on Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington (“a half-baked portrait by a Spanish drunkard), Bunton stole the painting from the National Gallery in London. As ransom, he demanded that the money be spent on free television for the elderly he was caught (while returning the painting) which led to a most amusing court battle as he uses his time on the dock as the public scene he has been seeking for a long time.

The expertly crafted short film by Roger Michell tells this incredibly charming story of a good man who makes a difference with great British understatement, plenty of dry humour, an unforeseen twist in the third act and a terrific denouement (the BBC finally caved ).

Note: readers worth their salt will have already decided to see this, based solely on the words “Broadbent” and “Mirren” in the first paragraph. Impossible to be wrong. (96 mins)


About Author

Comments are closed.