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LIVING FILMS: VIDEO: FROTH'S SHORT OF REAL STEEL.

Byline: RICHARD WILLIAMSON

2 WEEKS NOTICE (15) SANDRA Bullock has an Audrey Hepburn moment and Hugh Grant wishes his first name was Cary. But, alas, Hollywood still cannot quite recapture the magic of those old romantic comedies. Bullock and Grant do strike sparks but the plot's as old as the hills.

Lucy (Bullock) is the high-principled lawyer with a social conscience who meets property developer George (Grant), a man who makes millions by trampling on the little people.

She agrees to work for him in return for a promise that he won't demolish a community centre of historic importance. Naturally, they're drawn to one another, but the course of true love cannot run smooth and there are many embarrassments and clashes on the way, most of them predictable. It's all perfectly nice and cosy, undemanding and watchable, with a few decent one-liners to make you smile.

But it's also a reminder that even a romantic comedy needs some steel behind all that frivolity and froth. Unfortunately, Hollywood lost the knack some time ago.

THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (15) PETER Mullan didn't make many friends in the Roman Catholic church with his searingly critical film about the harsh world of The Magdalene Sisters. Set in the 1960s, it's the story of three young women shut away in a special home run by nuns. They have committed no crime but are deemed to be at moral risk.

Margaret was raped by a cousin. Rose is a single mum forcibly parted from her child and disowned by her family. Orphan Bernadette is guilty only of mild flirting with the boys.

Geraldine McEwan, with a deceptive smile and a vicious nature, leads a gang of nuns who perhaps thought they were saving souls but all you see here are crushed spirits.

This is a quietly angry film graced with splendid, unfussy, unsettling performances from its young stars as three vulnerable girls who needed help but found only cruelty from the church.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 31, 2003
Words:326
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