The Duke Review

REVIEW: The Duke

The Duke focuses on the strange case of the stolen Duke of Wellington portrait from the National Gallery in London. In August 1961, the painting was bought using taxpayer funds and placed on display. Nineteen days later, Kempton Brunton (Jim Broadbent) sneaks into the Gallery through a tiny bathroom window and lifts the painting.

Brunton is an activist, working toward getting free television licenses for the elderly and disabled, and tries to use the portrait to further his cause. Eventually, the painting was returned, and Brunton was charged for the theft. The subsequent courtroom trial turned into a circus, revealing the actual thief by the film’s end.

The Duke Review

Now, this sounds like it’d be interesting, right? I’ve read a book that details the case, so I did know who really stole the portrait and was excited about the film as soon as I heard one was being made about it. After two years, it was finally released in the US. Well, this film was not interesting at all and was the most extended hour and a half-ish of my life. I almost fell asleep, and when I wasn’t thinking about a nap, I played with the hem of my jeans or examined my sandals.

The Duke Review

Maybe the issue was my expectations. I was expecting an exciting film about the portrait’s slightly bonkers, motivation-less theft. However, this was not the case; it focused more on the Brunton family grieving the loss of their daughter years before and I am not sure what that had to do with the theft? It was definitely not what I signed up for. The only part I found engaging was when the case got to court, which was the film’s last 20 or so minutes.

I wouldn’t watch this again and I wish I’d skipped this and done literally anything else with my time. I probably shouldn’t have even spent the time writing this review! I guess if you’re interested in family dramas about the process of grief or you’re into Helen Mirren, you may like this film. Otherwise, pass.

The Duke | February 25, 2022 (United Kingdom) 6.9


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