“I think Kempton Bunton would have been happy to see his story of painting theft made into a movie, premiered in London. His grandson was there, he loved it. What reassures the English actor John Broadbent (Moulin rouge, Iris, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), who, with Helen Mirren (The Madness of King George and soon Golda Meir), shares the poster of The Duke , the ultimate comedy by Roger Michell, who disappeared last year after having made us laugh so much with Love at first sight in Notting Hill, played by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.

An English comedy, funny, eccentric, both light and serious, carried by this couple who marvelously portray anonymous middle class people who find themselves at the heart of a case that has shaken England and Scotland Yard for four years, from 1961 to 1965. The Duke is a painting, the Duke of Wellington painted by Goya, which will mysteriously disappear from the National Gallery in London, stolen discreetly by this same Kempton Bunton, a modest sixty-year-old from Newcastle and former taxi driver. A first since no painting has so far been stolen from the museum.

“For him, it’s not a theft, but a loan, mischievously specifies John Broadbent, who has already filmed for Roger Michell in Week-end in Paris (2013). He wanted his voice to be heard and a pretext to escalate this affair, to activate the press and the political class on a very simple demand: the free BBC license fee for the most deprived and the elderly. In other words, larceny for a good cause and a snub to the establishment that allows this second-hand burglar to impose his conditions: the painting on the winner of Waterloo against the end of the royalty.

Wanted by the police, this invisible Robin Hood does not lose his composure, refining his plan, without saying anything to his wife, who does not spare him. Together, they share a wound that never heals: the disappearance of their daughter. Since then, their existence has become bleak. She reigns as a solitary mistress in the house. He is an unhappy author who writes plays systematically refused by the BBC. The court, logical continuation of this affair, will be for him the occasion to make a big number in front of a real public.

“In fact, Roger Michell, who was an experienced filmmaker, notes John Broadbent, mixed up two stories: the theft of the painting and the difficulty for this couple to mourn their missing daughter. It’s a skillful mix of which Helen and I are the ingredients. »

The Duke is the pretext for Roger Michell to evolve between pure comedy and social fable on the solidarity and interdependence of all citizens, without falling into a political lesson. For him, Kempton is a kind of modern hero, an optimist who advocates solidarity between people. generosity. “His message is simple,” John Broadbent concludes: “be generous and loving. “Qualities that we find in the couple he forms with Helen Mirren. Both carry the film on their shoulders and succeed in provoking an immediate feeling of empathy in the viewer. All the English charm of The Duke is there.

The Duke, in theaters May 11.



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