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'Philomena' impresses, Gilliam goes into black hole in Venice

Updated: 2013-09-03 13:51

'Philomena' impresses, Gilliam goes into black hole in Venice

Actress Judi Dench poses during a photocall for the movie "Philomena", directed by Stephen Frears, during the 70th Venice Film Festival in Venice August 31, 2013. The movie debuts at the festival.[Photo/Agencies]

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan's heart-tugging "Philomena" continued to garner praise at the Venice Film Festival, while director Terry Gilliam's "The Zero Theorem" took viewers into a dystopian world in the latest competition offering on Monday.

Gilliam's film, which his legions of fans hope will mark a return to form for the maker of the cult classics "Twelve Monkeys" and "Brazil", stars Christoph Walz as a reclusive number cruncher whose computer rig resembles a video game.

Haunted by visions of a black hole, he has no friends, talks about himself in the first person plural and works for a "management" that wants to prove that everything equals nothing.

It elicited a few boos at the first festival showing but young Italian film bloggers said it captured the way people communicate and interact in the Internet age.

"Since Facebook, we work at home, we love at home and we never see each other," Matteo Bernardini of website Pointblank ( said after seeing the film, which also stars a singing pizza box.

Trade publication Variety said the main buzz as the festival hit midpoint, between the opening with space drama "Gravity" last Wednesday and the awarding of the Golden Lion on Saturday, was around "Philomena" and two other films, "Joe" and "Tracks".

The Nicolas Cage vehicle "Joe" tells the story of an ex-con mentoring a boy from a violent background and "Tracks" is based on the true story of a young woman's voyage of self discovery in a trek across the Australian desert with four camels.

Based on the real-life story of an elderly Irish woman's search for her child after nuns forced her to give him up for adoption, "Philomena" stars Dench in the title role and British comic Coogan as a world-weary journalist who agrees to write her story to try to rescue his flagging career.

"I was crying like crazy," one man who did not give his name said as he beat a hasty exit from a screening. Audiences packing rows to see the film have been crying, laughing and applauding.

One of the biggest laughs comes when Dench, whose impersonation of an Irishwoman is uncanny, flies to America with Coogan to track down her child, who would now be middle-aged.

Coogan, as journalist Martin Sixsmith, is used to business class, but Philomena is excited by the offer of a free cocktail.

"This is lovely, Martin," Dench says. "You have to pay for everything on Ryanair" - a reference to the European budget airline.

'Philomena' impresses, Gilliam goes into black hole in Venice

'Philomena' impresses, Gilliam goes into black hole in Venice

'Philomena' impresses, Gilliam goes into black hole in Venice

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'Philomena' impresses, Gilliam goes into black hole in Venice

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