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Film review

Pros Dench, Coogan make challenging 'Philomena' work

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in “Philomena,” based on the true story of a woman trying to find out what happened to the toddler she was forced to give up almost 50 years earlier.
Photographer: Alex Bailey/The Weinstein Co.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in “Philomena,” based on the true story of a woman trying to find out what happened to the toddler she was forced to give up almost 50 years earlier.
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Ask any good chef: Why do some recipes work, while others, with the very same ingredients, do not? Ah, but it’s the quality of the ingredients that matters, that chef will probably say. And so it is with Stephen Frears’ “Philomena,” a film whose cinematic recipe seems tricky at best: Take a shocking and tragic tale — a true one, involving the Catholic Church, no less — and make it into a film that’s part ...

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