This is a cute and fun enough, warm, little movie but it's still lacking a certain bit of extra to turn this into a truly powerful and touching movie as well.
It's hard to explain without spoiling things for you but lets just say that I was more fond of the first half of the movie. It's not like the movie turns into a terrible one about halfway through but I felt that it sort of started to shift in tone and the story began focusing on some different- and in my opinion less interesting and effective, things as well. I enjoyed the whole 'search' aspect of the story but everything else...I don't know, it's hard to put my finger on.
Maybe I'm just made of stone but I never felt that touched by- or was emotionally invested with the story and characters of the movie. But I really feel that the movie itself is to 'blame' for this tough. It on the one hand is trying to be a cute, warm, feel-good type of movie but it on the other also still tries to be a tearjerker as well, which just didn't always went together very well in my opinion and experience.
Perhaps it's also true that I was simply enjoying the light and subtle comedy aspects of the movie too much and felt that the drama was getting too much in the way of it at times. You have to remember, this is a real British movie, so it has no exaggerated comedy- or laughing-out-loud moments in it but it's all rather subtle and more 'realistic' feeling instead, which all helps to make this movie a cute and warm one to watch.
I obviously also really still 'enjoyed' watching this movie. Despite some heavy and serious themes, it manages to remain a warm and fun movie, making it a perfectly watchable one, no matter what mood you are in.
It's also a movie that attempts to feature a whole bunch of other underlying themes in it, of which some work out but others distract and feel too forced within the movie, especially considering that it's based on a true, very human, story. The main story in itself would have sufficed as an engaging and interesting enough one of its own but the movie still feels the need to inject some more drama and deeper underlying themes into the story, which in my opinion went at the expense of its overall credibility at times.
Not that the movie ever turns into a formulaic or over-sentimental one though luckily. It's actually a very fresh and original feeling movie, despite the fact that its story in essence features nothing in that hasn't been done or told before in any other movie. It's simply a movie with a real unique look and feel of its own. I for instance also liked how the movie really didn't changed all that much in atmosphere when it's taking the story and characters to a different continent.
And of course I also can't say anything negative about the movie its performance. It's actually a pretty 'tame' and restrained performance by Judi Dench but some roles of course simply require a bit more subtlety at times and Judi Dench did a more than marvelous job with it. But really equally as great- if not better, was Steve Coogan's performance, who also helped to write and produce the movie. Even though he has already been in the business for years now, it isn't until recently that he's really having a bit of a breakout as an actor, outside of the United Kingdom, where people have known him for decades already.
A great and well made movie to watch but I wouldn't call it one of the year's best or an absolute must-see, though you most likely still won't regret watching it.