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Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren excel in touching real-life crime caper



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Film review: The Duke (12), The Light Cinema, out now

Stars: Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren.

Running time: 1hr 36mins Director: Roger Michell

The Duke (54822916)
The Duke (54822916)

Back in my school days I saw a Sylvester Stallone Rocky film with my friends. After taking the pummelling he always did in these movies, our likeable pugilist recovered in the last round and somehow won the fight... and many in the cinema stood up and clapped.

At the time I thought this was ridiculous – it wasn’t a real match and the actors couldn’t hear the applause.

Fast-forward a few decades, however, and it was me subconsciously clapping (counscious enough to stay seated though) at the pivotal point in this film.

The case for actors getting better with age has never been stronger after the performances of Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren in this real-life crime caper comedy drama.

In fact, it’s impossible to decide who puts in the better showing between the 76-year-old Mirren and Broadbent (72).

The film sees the 60-year-old self-educated working class Kempton Bunton (Broadbent) appear at the Old Bailey, denying stealing an expensive portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.

Six months earlier, in Spring 1961, Socialist Bunton had been jailed for watching TV without a licence – though he could afford it, he refused as part of his campaign to gain free licences for pensioners.

Broadbent plays Kempton with warmth and humour, backed up superbly by Mirren as his long suffering but loyal and loving wife Dorothy. Even their Geordie accents are spot on throughout.

Although the court case is the part that brought most joy to me (and hopefully others), there is a tragic sub-plot too, involving the death of their daughter some years earlier, and that is dealt with beautifully.

It is also fitting that director Roger Michell’s final film (he died in September) is up there with his other classic, Notting Hill.

Watch this if you possibly can.

By Jeremy Ransome

Rating: 9/10

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