Critics Consensus

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.



Reviews Counted: 191

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 52,342


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4.1/5

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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 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. (c) Weinstein

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Judi Dench
as Philomena Lee
Steve Coogan
as Martin Sixsmith
Sophie Kennedy Clark
as Young Philomena
Ruth McCabe
as Mother Barbara
Barbara Jefford
as Sister Hildegarde
Michelle Fairley
as Sally Mitchell
Peter Hermann
as Pete Olsson
Kate Fleetwood
as Young Sister Hildegarde
Sean Mahon
as Michael
Wunmi Mosaku
as Young Nun
Amy McCallister
as Sister Anunciata
Rita Hamill
as Nursery Nun
Tadhg Bowen
as Young Anthony
Saoirse Bowen
as Young Mary
Harrison D'Ampney
as Anthony (8-10 Years)
Simone Lahbib
as Kate Sixsmith
Sara Stewart
as Marcia Weller
Nicholas Jones
as Dr. Robert
Marie Jones
as Barman's Mum
Vaughn Joseph
as Receptionist Hotel
Shug Fisher
as Omelette Chef
Florence Keith-Roach
as Check In Operator
George Michael Rados
as Priest In Church
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News & Interviews for Philomena

Critic Reviews for Philomena

All Critics (191) | Top Critics (48)

  • 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.

    Dec 22, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It's smart and unsweetened.

    Dec 10, 2013 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Nov 28, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • We wouldn't care about any of this if the performances were weak. But both actors find complexity and depth.

    Nov 27, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • At its core, this clever, wrenching, profound story underscores the tenacity of faith in the face of unfathomable cruelty.

    Nov 27, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Nov 27, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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.

Christian C
Christian C

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.

Manu Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer


Phenomenal. Par excellence.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

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.

Lanning : )
Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

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