This is a charming classic English comedy based on a true story about the theft of a Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery London in 1961, only weeks after it was purchased.
It is the only theft in the gallery’s history, and the police thought that it had been taken by a highly organized international group of criminals.
Kempton Bunton (Jim Broadbent, in a role that might have been made for him) is a 60 year old man with a social conscience who is outraged that public money has been spent on “a half-baked portrait of some Spanish drunk” when it could have been spent “for the greater good of mankind”.
He has been visited by the police, and spent a short time in jail, for refusing to pay for a TV licence which he believed should be free for elderly people, and has also lost his job as a taxi driver for talking too much to the clients and giving a free ride to a disabled war veteran.
The film opens him pleading “not guilty” in court where he is facing several charges for stealing the painting, and sending ransom notes to the Government demanding that they invest more money in the care of the elderly.
His long-suffering and law-abiding wife Dorothy (Helen Mirren), employed as a charlady by a local councillor, has no idea that the painting is stashed behind a false backing in a cupboard. She puts up with his obsessive behaviour and hopes that he will give up writing unpublished manuscripts and get another job.
In court his barrister (Matthew Goode) defends him on the grounds that the painting was “borrowed,” not stolen.
The actors and film-makers must have enjoyed making this funny and thought-provoking crowd-pleaser. It was the last film directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill. Enduring Love. My Cousin Rachel) who died in 2021 and was co-written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman.
Showing at Event Cinemas at Innaloo, Whitford and Morley.
Watch the trailer…