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Judi Dench takes on the MPAA for 'Philomena'

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by Inkoo Kang
November 11, 2013 2:00 PM
1 Comment
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Still from 'Philomena'

In the superb upcoming drama Philomena, where an elderly woman embarks on a trans-Atlantic search for a son who was adopted against her will fifty years previously, star Judi Dench doesn't kill anyone. Nor does she throw a punch. She doesn't stab, strangle, or smother a single soul. She and her co-star Steve Coogan, who plays a journalist writing a story about her, do say "fuck" a couple of times, though not about fucking. Those two utterances of a word most teenagers (and the rest of us) say every day were enough to garner a R rating for Philomena stateside.

Dench is fighting back. 

The Oscar-winning actress signaled her willingness to wage a public battle with the MPAA in a 23-second YouTube video, in which she channeled M, her tough-as-nails character from the James Bond series. According to Variety, the video is a teaser for a future Funny or Die sketch:


Philomena is distributed by The Weinstein Company, no stranger to the pearl-clutchers over at the MPAA. Back in 2010, Harvey Weinstein and Blue Valentine star Ryan Gosling launched a media campaign to get the romantic drama's rating downgraded from an illogical NC-17 seal of doom. After some adjustments, the MPAA eventually backed down in that case. 

Our own Melissa Silverstein addressed Dench and Weinstein's rating battle for Forbes, writing: 

It's interesting to me that most of the fights that become public with the ratings board are usually not about violence but about language and sexuality, which is where the [MPAA] board maintains its rigidity. There was a fight recently over the film Blue Valentine and the actor Ryan Gosling even got into the conversation calling the board misogynistic for trying to "control a woman's sexual presentation of self." He also said: "I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film." He's got a point.

In her native England, Dench's film received the equivalent of a PG-13 rating. Philomena will be released on November 22. 

Watch the trailer here:

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1 Comment

  • Kiki | November 11, 2013 7:16 PMReply

    This is insane. Philomena is such a beautiful film, and I honestly can't remember when anyone says 'f---' . What I do remember is the beautiful script and incredible performances, how touched I was and what an important story this is and it deserves to be watched and talked about. So many young women were forced to surrender their children for adoption in the US too during the same time and no one really talks about it. And they're going to keep teenagers from learning about this because of a word that is mentioned twice that they already use on a daily basis?! I really don't get it.

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