Philomena: movie review

Movies, Drama
0 Love It
Save it
Philomena: movie review

Steve Coogan does cocksure arrogance better than any Brit, but lately, he’s steered a course toward complexity—and now he’s arrived at something truly great. Developed and coscripted by the star himself, Stephen Frears’s absorbingly complex latest takes the journalistic urgency of The Queen and adds a feisty layer of religious sparring, something you won’t find in American films. The combatants are Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), the real-life ex-BBCer looking for a comeback, and Philomena Lee (Dench, chocolate over iron), the devout mum at the center of his human-interest story.

They seek her long-lost son, taken from her as an orphan while she toiled—unwed and disowned—in an abbey. A trip to America bears its share of exasperated hotel-room humor, but watch both actors lean into characters seeking redemption; their clash is invigorating, with a mature payoff that has two minds meeting and getting further along. It’s a tonic to all the Oscar-season showboating: Call it Best Duo.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf


Release details

Rated: PG-13
Release date: Wednesday November 27 2013
Duration: 98 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Stephen Frears
Screenwriter: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
Cast: Steve Coogan
Judi Dench
Xavier Atkins
Michelle Fairley
1 person listening

Such a sublime film in which Stephen Frears has found the perfect tone to narrate with his customary subtlety the story of an encounter and of a double quest. That of a mother but also that of a journalist whose pseudo certainties have been shattered, which, paradoxically enough, makes him stronger by giving him (back) the capacity to be moved by another human being. Judi Dench depicts in a breathtaking way all the complexity and the density of the emotions and thoughts of this luminous Philomena. She achieves this with the grace and the delicacy which are part and parcel of her acting skills and with this extraordinary capacity she possesses to embody the beauty, the frailty and the strength of the human soul.