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Critic's Pick: Steve Coogan in 'Philomena'

The British comic has turned his talents to dramatic roles recently, with intriguing results.

December 26, 2013|By Betsy Sharkey
  • Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in "Philomena."
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in "Philomena." (Alex Bailey / The Weinstein…)

Much has been made of Judi Dench's finely nuanced turn in director Stephen Frears' excellent new drama, "Philomena." But a shout-out too for Steve Coogan, her co-star and the film's co-writer, who adapted Martin Sixsmith's book with Jeff Pope. Most of us first got to know the Brit as a comic force — razor-sharp observations delivered with a dry deadpan for maximum effect. For the stripped-down version of Coogan comedy see the delightful "Trip," for the classic and crazed check out "24 Hour Party People." But the darker turns he's taken recently are quite wonderful in their own way. His wretched father earlier this year in "What Maisie Knew" was a stunner. In this latest role as a weary political journalist reluctantly coming to Philomena's aid, Coogan captures a man in the midst of changing, maturing at middle age, in a lovely, understated way. I'm a fan of both Coogans, but at the moment the dramatic intrigues me most.

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