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Philomena (2013)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 171
Fresh: 158 | Rotten: 13

Based on a powerful true story and led by note-perfect performances from Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, Philomena offers a profoundly affecting drama for adult filmgoers of all ages.


Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 2

Based on a powerful true story and led by note-perfect performances from Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, Philomena offers a profoundly affecting drama for adult filmgoers of all ages.



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 49,438

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Movie Info

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



Apr 15, 2014


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May 5, 2014:
2014 GLAAD Media Awards Winners
The GLAAD Media Awards announced its final set of 2014 winners in New York on May 3, 2014 at the...
January 8, 2014:
2014 BAFTA Awards Nominations
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts -- otherwise known as BAFTA -- announced the 2014...


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All Critics (171) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (158) | Rotten (13) | DVD (1)

What at first seems formulaic comedy gains a deeper resonance as we see how they represent two responses to cruelty and injustice -- first outrage, and with time, eventually, forgiveness.

December 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's smart and unsweetened.

December 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Grantland
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even as Philomena embraces the expected feel-good dynamics, it avoids taking the usual path and doesn't paint all of the "evil" nuns with the same brush.

November 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We wouldn't care about any of this if the performances were weak. But both actors find complexity and depth.

November 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

At its core, this clever, wrenching, profound story underscores the tenacity of faith in the face of unfathomable cruelty.

November 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director Steven Frears deserves special mention. A lesser filmmaker could so easily have turned this project into mushy, sentimental junk. The tear-jerking moments here are heartfelt and real. It's the kind of filmmaking we see too little of today.

November 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dench and Cooper could do this stuff in their sleep and keep us entertained, which they do, but it's the nuanced twists and turns in both the characters and the story that elevate the picture beyond the familiar.

June 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Windy City Times
Windy City Times

I'd be a grouch to call the two leads anything but delightful, and they both stretch in directions you mightn't expect.

April 23, 2014 Full Review Source: Columbus Alive
Columbus Alive

Director Frears handles the story with enough dramatic weight and light comic fare to make "Philomena" a sweet and very compelling human tale...

March 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Be not fooled by the marketing materials, which make the film look like an aged-up version of The Trip with Judi Dench in place of Rob Brydon. Philomena is a terrifically made, entertaining work.

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

Dench is brilliant as the adult Philomena. In spite of her generally outgoing appearance there is a sadness behind her eyes born of five decades of heartbreak.

February 9, 2014 Full Review Source: MediaMikes

Despite the glum subject, Coogan and Dench raise plenty of smiles as the unlikeliest of couples.

February 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Record [UK]
Daily Record [UK]

Equal parts uplifting tearjerker, odd-couple comedy, and righteous screed against abuse of power in the name of religion

February 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

It's a film with depth, tackling big issues while managing to be an immensely personal story at the same time.

January 30, 2014 Full Review Source: The Standard
The Standard

Earns its heartwarming-ness honestly, with Dench and Coogan mouthing the dialogue with utter believability.

January 9, 2014 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

As much a poignant meditation on motherhood lost as a searing indictment of the Catholic Church's antiquated attitude about what might be in the best interests of an adopted child.

January 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Baret News
Baret News

Dench triumphs in tale of a search for a son

January 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Very nicely balanced and unexpectedly moving.

December 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

As much a poignant meditation on motherhood lost as a searing indictment of the Catholic Church's antiquated attitude about what might be in the best interests of an adopted child.

December 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Sly Fox
Sly Fox

Not only is the film an interesting real-life drama, it also works as a buddy comedy thanks to the versatile performances of both Steve Coogan and Judi Dench.

December 25, 2013 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane
ABC Radio Brisbane

A great story as well as the greatest pairing of a male nonbeliever an a female believer since "The African Queen".

December 24, 2013 Full Review Source:

A beautiful, moving story, directed with unhurried, unforced grace by veteran Stephen Frears (The Queen; High Fidelity). If, at the end of this film, you don't at least get a little misty-eyed, please check your pulse: you might already be dead.

December 24, 2013 Full Review Source: 3AW

Flawless performances and the perfect blend of pathos and humour ensures this is a crowd-pleaser in the best sense of the word.

December 23, 2013 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

Lovingly crafted and beautifully told, Philomena is one of this year's highlights.

December 23, 2013 Full Review Source: MovieFIX

One of the best purely British films of the year.

December 23, 2013 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

I think this is a really good film. You've got to admire Steve Coogan for the projects he takes on.

December 23, 2013 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Audience Reviews for Philomena

A remarkable film in every way. The acting was excellent -- a lifetime of pain and regret can been seen in Dench's eyes at certain times. The script was wonderful -- credibly showing different (but equally valid) reactions to unspeakable injustice by two people of different ages, faith experiences, genders, and educational backgrounds. This is one of my favorite films of 2013.
June 29, 2014

Super Reviewer

These two unlikely companions are on a journey to find her long lost son.

Very Good FIim! Sometimes I get the feeling filmmakers have lost their way. Formulas work and make the basics irrelevant so we get carbon copy blockbusters appealing to the masses clearly showing a reckless disregard for what filmmaking is all about: visually telling a story. And then a film like Philomena comes along and reminds us of the magic that can happen when a true craftsman and artist skillfully blends the basic ingredients of story, character, camera, and music into an exhilarating and powerful work of art. This film is satisfying at every level and gives me hope that some people still know what they are doing when they take the money and do their job effectively. The folks on this one should be extremely proud of their efforts.

When former journalist Martin Sixsmith is dismissed from the Labour Party in disgrace, he is at a loss as to what do. That changes when a young Irish woman approaches him about a story of her mother, Philomena, who had her son taken away when she was a teenage inmate of a Catholic convent. Martin arranges a magazine assignment about her search for him that eventually leads to America. Along the way, Martin and Philomena discover as much about each other as about her son's fate. Furthermore, both find their basic beliefs challenged.
May 16, 2014
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Phenomenal. Par excellence.
May 14, 2014

Super Reviewer

The best of the nominated films I've seen so far. If August: Osage County had been nominated as well, it would be a tie for these two. Hats off to Dench and Coogan for their transformative performances.
May 12, 2014

Super Reviewer

    1. Philomena Lee: We come full circle.
    2. Martin Sixsmith: Yes ... the end of all our exploring, Will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time.
    3. Philomena Lee: Ah, that's lovely Martin. Did you just think of that?
    4. Martin Sixsmith: No, it's T.S. Eliot.
    5. Philomena Lee: Oh well never mind. It's still very nice.
    – Submitted by Ken C (6 months ago)
    1. Sister Hildegarde: The Lord Jesus Christ will be my judge - not the likes of you.
    2. Martin Sixsmith: Really? Because I think if Jesus was here right now he'd tip you out of that fucking wheelchair - and you wouldn't get up and walk.
    – Submitted by Ken C (6 months ago)
    1. Philomena Lee: And after I had the sex, I thought anything that feels so lovely must be wrong.
    2. Martin Sixsmith: Fucking Catholics.
    – Submitted by Ken C (6 months ago)
    1. Philomena Lee: My Dad went to Catholic school and got my Mom pregnant. He married her. She hated me. She beat me. I wish she would have given me up for adoption.
    – Submitted by Teri S (7 months ago)
    1. Philomena Lee: I did not abandon my child, he was taken away from me.
    – Submitted by Ben K (9 months ago)
    1. Philomena Lee: If God were in there, he'd say you were a fucking idiot!
    – Submitted by Tracye H (9 months ago)
View all quotes (7)

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