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Caryn James

Not Too Sappy, Not Too Harsh: Dench and Coogan in 'Philomena'

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 19, 2013 9:02 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If you're going to tell a heart-warming story about a sweet, wronged little old lady, it helps -- even if she is played by Judi Dench -- to have a hard-nosed, mordantly witty, cynical journliast along to offset the sugar quotient. That is the brilliant strategy behind Philomena, the fact-based story of Philomena Lee (Dench), whose 3-year-old son was forcibly taken from her by Irish nuns who were her supposed protectors, and adopted away to America. Soft-voiced and touchingly craggy-faced, Dench is the heart of the film. Steve Coogan is its brain; he is a producer, he co-wrote the screenplay (with Jeff Pope) and he suavely plays Martin Sixsmith, a one-time hotshot and now umemployed reporter, who can barely say the words "human interest story" without sneering.

'Skyfall' Review. Bond At 50: Older, Wiser, Much Better Written

  • By Caryn James
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  • November 8, 2012 9:15 AM
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Daniel Craig looks craggier than ever in Skyfall, which is part of the film’s sly, obvious-yet-effective theme. Without slowing down the intricate, explosive action that defines a Bond movie, director Sam Mendes and a sharper-than-usual screenplay create a story in which Bond is feeling his middle-age; gizmo-happy Q is a young computer-whiz played by Ben Whishaw; and in this new world where terrorist threats arrive on your hacked laptop, M -- played once more and quite touchingly by Judi Dench -- is considered an old fart.

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