The Tichborne Claimant (1998)

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David Yates directs John Kani, Robert Pugh and Charles Gray in this true tale of servant who brings back from Australia a dubious missing heir, only to have the family reject him while the British public embrace him. 

A grand little first film from the now blockbuster director of the State of Play TV show, the later Harry Potter entries and spin offs, and last year’s underrated Legend of Tarzan. A remarkable footnote in British history is brought to life in the detached, ironic and episodic style similar to Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Although slight, it is a handsome and wry jaunt through that period’s concerns and styles with a luvvie supporting cast who glow rather than grate – as more often than not they are here playing acidic establishment rotters rather than their standard kindly butlers and portly fairy godmothers. One of those magical realist successes that feel even more mythic and important when you realise the historical accuracy of the story. Fine lead performances from Kani and Pugh too.

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