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Judi Dench takes on the MPAA for 'Philomena'

Women and Hollywood By Inkoo Kang | Women and Hollywood November 11, 2013 at 2:00PM

Dench 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.
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Still from 'Philomena'
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:

This article is related to: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Philomena, MPAA, Harvey Weinstein


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