The script has some fun around the edges with the haughty certainty of its police investigators, including a scene in which they snidely dismiss the contributions of a female handwriting expert. And the lead performances, too, are simply tremendously appealing. Broadbent previously portrayed a financially distressed character with a marriage teetering on the rocks for Michell, in 2013’s Le Week-End. Here he plays something difficult, a selfishly unselfish man (“a fantasist who believes he’s an idealist,” as one character describes him), with a robust sincerity that wins one over to his Robin Hood mindset. Mirren, meanwhile, can of course play put-upon in her sleep, but her work here is that of a savvy accompanist, providing notes which tell the story of the pair’s marriage, and help fill in reasons for Kempton’s choices.


Together, this talented duo gives The Duke life, and a sense of Everyman connection. If the film isn’t quite as complicated as one might sometimes wish it to be, that isn’t to say that this unassuming version of its decidedly strange true tale is anything other than agreeable on its own terms.