The Duke (2022) | Review


Starting out with a good old-fashioned con movie aesthetic and blossoming into a story of an unlikely hero, Roger Michell's The Duke is a fantastic rollercoaster of twists and turns. 

Introduced to playwright and local-activist Kempton Bunton (Jim Broadbent), we see the reality of working-class Britain in the Macmillan era. "Free TV for the OAP" is Bunton's primary stance. Miffed about paying for the TV license (a debate as relevant as ever), he takes to the streets to garner support for his protest. To the dismay of his wife, Dorothy (Helen Mirren), who works for the rich, he consequently persuades her to allow him one final romp on the steps of Parliament ("to change anything, you have to go to parliament") before the mystery of the stolen painting ensues. 

Both first-time feature-film writers Richard Bean and Clive Coleman nail the brilliance of this true-to-life tale, capturing the essence of the North. While dedicated to levity, it's not without heart. It is as much a tale of grief as it is a con movie, and the small details of subtext that are present but not pointed to are compelling.

An abundance of talent backs director Michell, whose sophomore feature, Notting Hill, holds a firm stake in the ground of British cinema. With a wealth of experience in documentary, director of photography Mike Eley captures Kristian Milsted's production design with magnificence. There's a lot to love beyond the performances of stars Mirren and Broadbent, with clever composition and exquisite world-building. 

In a neat 96 minutes, The Duke packs a punch. Stories such as this often overcomplicate with extravagant intricacies, but Bunton's is sincere, urging us to focus on its central narrative of humanity. Michell goes above and beyond this. By the end, it's borderline impossible not to clap along with the public gallery in the courtroom. Bunton is a real gift of a British hero, and between The Duke and the upcoming The Phantom of the Open, it feels there is space for people to dare to dream again. Perhaps it was the case that it may have been "difficult to find an audience for plays about grief," but it feels that for a world so perpetually stuck in the in-between, we are frantically searching for stories like this. 

The Duke hits select NY and LA cinemas from April 22nd, 2022 before expanding to additional cities over the following weeks.

The Angelika Film Center and Sony Pictures Classics are teaming up for the "Bring A Friend Back To The Movies" initiative which will provide one complimentary ticket to anyone who purchases a ticket directly from the Angelika website, app or in theater to see The Duke. "The goal is to bring audiences back and remind them that nothing beats seeing a film on a big screen with a friend"

In addition, Angelika Film Center separately announced the Angelika Membership program which will be free to join. Launching April 29th, 2022, the membership offers exclusive rewards and benefits for film lovers. 

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