Philomena (2013)

Philomena (2013)
  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Stephen Frears
  • Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Neve Gachev


Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, “Philomena” focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock – something her Irish-Catholic community didn’t have the highest opinion of – and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into the son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith (Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.


  • A beautiful, heartfelt, delicate, heart-wrenching, heart-uplifting and surprising film. Equal to The Queen and Driving Miss Daisy. I’ll let the other reviewers explain why. But my teenage daughter liked it and learned some socially important lessons, which, at the time, all made sense. Both characters on this road trip – the observant, forgiving, school-of-hard-knocks Philomena and wry, cynical, and just-fired Martin, grow as individuals through their forced company to try to find a long-lost son and to find a paycheck. Other reviewers have equated it to The King’s Speech. I disagree. One needed some ownership of what happened with King Edward and Mrs. Wallis to understand the earthquake his resignation brought. You do not need that knowledge of history to fall in love with this little story of two opposites searching for a son who was adopted out in hopes of a better future.

  • (Rating: 4,5 S /5)”Philomena” is an interesting and sad real case about forced adoptions occurred in an abbey belonging to the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland (1955). With a book written about the fact, and with a number of unresolved cases regarding the current whereabouts and identity of adoptees, now takes to stay in memory the film “Philomena”, with outstanding performances of Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. The film ‘s director is Stephen Frears, who has specialized in older and emotional values (“The Queen”, featured Helen Mirren). Despite the prestige and talent, this film does not feel as polished as it should, and the result is irregular but with a thrilling high note

    Part of the failure of “Philomena” is the jarring narrative unity. The first 50 minutes begin well (with all the background of what happened with the forced adoption and reducing the protagonist to servitude) and culminate in an ocean of mediocrity. Frears prioritize the first half of the film to develop the mutual relationship of the characters: the two, Dench and Coogan, they are still two silly and stubborn; the first for reasons of age, and the second because he is a fool equally or slightly outdated and fought with the rest of the world (eg, yearns to write a book of Russian history, when the “polls” tell no one read Russian history). The only thing different is that Dench is unshakable Catholic and Coogan is atheist. In developing, there are some English humor: is the clumsiness or statements in inappropriate contexts, hence the protagonists are a little silly. Not that this approach is wrong, but 3 things happen that jeopardize the end of the first half of the film. The first is that the humor is fairly light (at a time Judi Dench is concerned that her child may be obese). The second is that the protagonists do not maintain appearances with their ideological polarities, even for a minimum of genuine friendship. But the most important factor is that the story moves at a very slow pace, simply because this pseudo-humorous relationship prevents the movie moves in terms of drama; and when it does, the clues collected by journalist Coogan are fortuitous or Deus Ex Machina (eg find in a bar, through friends, about the whereabouts of the son of Philomena). Worst of all, the soundtrack, which starts correctly, becomes cloying or with false steps, through no fault of the composer, but because the film loses interest

    If the first 50 minutes of the film are soft, “Philomena” starts with all fury at the later stage. Fails (Deus Ex Machina, eg the Irish symbol on the beer) and the silly humor still persist, but it is more prudent. Even the rigid atheism of Coogan is more moderate to apologize Dench for being an idiot. From the second half, the film starts with energy in the drama, and hit quite a few interesting twists and coincidences. And of course, the last 15 minutes are almost formidable, with a Coogan strong diatribe against the antagonist nun, and she answered. However, when the atheist discourse threatened to reach over, the script abruptly cuts and appears Dench proclaiming and lowering his partner with forgiveness and mercy. Not that this message of love to others is wrong, but badly interrupted his companion and truncated the case

    It’s weird that some critics have said or written that “Philomena” is an anti-Catholic film. Not even appealing to the wildest imagination can say that. “Philomena” hardly risks in this field , this film is much more conservative than it appears. At most is encouraged to report the rigidity of religious institutions, but not religion. Even the atheist Coogan gives him Dench a mini-jesus

    Strictly speaking, “Philomena” is mediocre: it has a lot of bugs, including a film narrative mixed with 50 opening minutes of filler. If one takes on its own terms, if one tries to find sensations without question the quality, “Philomena” gets the trick. Forget the first half and you’ll find a production that will generate concerns and emotions, although perhaps not deserves the Oscar

  • Since the beginning of recorded history, religion has been a force for great good and terrible evil. Both the good and the evil have arisen alternately from the doctrine of particular religions and from interpretations, personalities and motivations of its followers. Often times, people who honestly believe they are doing their god’s good work, carry out that work in such a way that the effects of their efforts can only be seen as evil. Such is the case in the historical drama “Philomena” (PG-13, 1:38).

    Dame Judi Dench was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her role as the title character, an Irish woman who embarks on a journey to find her long-lost son. As a poor teenager, Philomena became pregnant. As they did with many girls in the same predicament, the local convent delivered her baby and allowed the two of them to live there in exchange for Philomena working in the convent’s laundry. When the boy turned three, the convent gave him up for adoption – without Philomena’s consent.

    She spends most of her life privately wondering what became of her son and inquiring at the convent had gotten her nowhere. On what was her son’s 50th birthday, Philomena reveals her secret to her daughter, who puts her in touch with journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote the film’s script, which earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay). Sixsmith decides to write a human interest article about Philomena. He ends up writing a book. Sixsmith’s book and this film adaptation tell the true story of Philomena’s quest and his help in resolving her very personal saga.

    “Philomena” is both interesting and entertaining. The film is equal parts human drama, mystery, buddy comedy and discussion about religion and morality, as it pertains to this little-known chapter of Catholic Church history. In short, finding out what happened to Philomena’s son is only part of the story. It’s also about what she does with the information she learns, and how it affects others. Director Stephen Frears gives us a small, but deep and compelling story that’s well-paced and well-told. For his efforts (and those of the other filmmakers and actors), in addition to its Best Actress and Best Screenplay nominations, the movie also received both Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Picture – I’d say, with good reason, as I give this film an “A-“.

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