Philomena Reviews

  • 6d ago

    The weepie has evolved since the days of Written on the Wind (1955) and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) as it has evolved beyond beautiful movie stars facing improbable obstacles while trying to be in a relationship. Now, this type of film can feature regular looking people who face tragedies not related to their lover marrying somebody else or dying in a historical tragedy. This film is a prime example of the genre as it succeeds due to a winning screenplay and two complex, nuanced performers that are sure to move audiences. While I have never considered Stephen Frears to be a ‘great' director he knew to keep this film fairly short and let the actors do all the work. Journalist Martin Sixsmith, Steve Coogan, has been unceremoniously ousted from the BBC and feels depressed as he is not sure which career to pursue. He eventually decides to write a human interest story about Philomena Lee, Judi Dench, who became pregnant at a young age and was forced into a nunnery by her family where she gave birth to her child, Anthony. She was forced to do labor for free in order to get out and her son was given to an American family to be adopted against her will. The nuns stonewall all of Lee's attempts to find out about her son and the two later learn that they burnt all documentation of the adoption. Fortunately Sixsmith has contacts in the United States that help them track down her son. Sadly all is not what it seems but a close relationship does form between Sixsmith and Lee that helps both of them to grow as people. Dench is stellar in the leading role as she blends the quirks of a cute old lady with the emotional depths of some of her more serious roles in A Room with a View (1985) and Iris (2001). All of this adds up to emotional devastation for the audience as we feel an intense rush of sympathy for this lovely older woman who has faced so much in her life and yet is willing to forgive those responsible for her suffering. She is matched by Coogan who, while he has the less emotional role, embodies his character perfectly with his typical biting wit and an unexpected touch of sadness. Together they are utterly charming as Dench recounts the plots of ludicrous romance novels to him while he remains politely disinterested before finally giving over to her deceptively strong will. The film is also able to target an incredibly scary issue as uneducated young women find themselves pregnant with no support system and have all of their options removed in favor of being exploited by a tyrannical religious organization. Yes, the nuns can seem a bit broad strokes at times but the justifications they present are those that real figures responsible for similar problems have provided and the self righteousness with which they speak makes them almost pitiable as they are unaware of how cruel they are. Contrary to what some believe the film is not anti-religion as the main character retains her religious principles by being forgiving of others for their ‘sins' and the villains are condemned not because they are religious but because they took a child away from his vulnerable mother and then used her for their purposes. You feel angry that this happened at the end of the film but also uplifted as while Lee lived a tragic life she remained friendly to those around her and has not lost her ability to forgive. The film's screenplay should have won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award because it's witty, warm and capable of dealing with serious issues at once. 12 Years a Slave (2013), the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay winner, was a film that I had significant issues with in terms of it's writing and I think it's ‘weighty' themes may have helped it more than it deserved. Many scoffed at the Best Picture nomination that this film earned but I preferred it to several of the other nominees, most notably 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Her (2013), and it is nice to see a smaller film receive this level of recognition. The weepie has evolved since the days of Written on the Wind (1955) and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) as it has evolved beyond beautiful movie stars facing improbable obstacles while trying to be in a relationship. Now, this type of film can feature regular looking people who face tragedies not related to their lover marrying somebody else or dying in a historical tragedy. This film is a prime example of the genre as it succeeds due to a winning screenplay and two complex, nuanced performers that are sure to move audiences. While I have never considered Stephen Frears to be a ‘great' director he knew to keep this film fairly short and let the actors do all the work. Journalist Martin Sixsmith, Steve Coogan, has been unceremoniously ousted from the BBC and feels depressed as he is not sure which career to pursue. He eventually decides to write a human interest story about Philomena Lee, Judi Dench, who became pregnant at a young age and was forced into a nunnery by her family where she gave birth to her child, Anthony. She was forced to do labor for free in order to get out and her son was given to an American family to be adopted against her will. The nuns stonewall all of Lee's attempts to find out about her son and the two later learn that they burnt all documentation of the adoption. Fortunately Sixsmith has contacts in the United States that help them track down her son. Sadly all is not what it seems but a close relationship does form between Sixsmith and Lee that helps both of them to grow as people. Dench is stellar in the leading role as she blends the quirks of a cute old lady with the emotional depths of some of her more serious roles in A Room with a View (1985) and Iris (2001). All of this adds up to emotional devastation for the audience as we feel an intense rush of sympathy for this lovely older woman who has faced so much in her life and yet is willing to forgive those responsible for her suffering. She is matched by Coogan who, while he has the less emotional role, embodies his character perfectly with his typical biting wit and an unexpected touch of sadness. Together they are utterly charming as Dench recounts the plots of ludicrous romance novels to him while he remains politely disinterested before finally giving over to her deceptively strong will. The film is also able to target an incredibly scary issue as uneducated young women find themselves pregnant with no support system and have all of their options removed in favor of being exploited by a tyrannical religious organization. Yes, the nuns can seem a bit broad strokes at times but the justifications they present are those that real figures responsible for similar problems have provided and the self righteousness with which they speak makes them almost pitiable as they are unaware of how cruel they are. Contrary to what some believe the film is not anti-religion as the main character retains her religious principles by being forgiving of others for their ‘sins' and the villains are condemned not because they are religious but because they took a child away from his vulnerable mother and then used her for their purposes. You feel angry that this happened at the end of the film but also uplifted as while Lee lived a tragic life she remained friendly to those around her and has not lost her ability to forgive. The film's screenplay should have won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award because it's witty, warm and capable of dealing with serious issues at once. 12 Years a Slave (2013), the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay winner, was a film that I had significant issues with in terms of it's writing and I think it's ‘weighty' themes may have helped it more than it deserved. Many scoffed at the Best Picture nomination that this film earned but I preferred it to several of the other nominees, most notably 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Her (2013), and it is nice to see a smaller film receive this level of recognition.

    The weepie has evolved since the days of Written on the Wind (1955) and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) as it has evolved beyond beautiful movie stars facing improbable obstacles while trying to be in a relationship. Now, this type of film can feature regular looking people who face tragedies not related to their lover marrying somebody else or dying in a historical tragedy. This film is a prime example of the genre as it succeeds due to a winning screenplay and two complex, nuanced performers that are sure to move audiences. While I have never considered Stephen Frears to be a ‘great' director he knew to keep this film fairly short and let the actors do all the work. Journalist Martin Sixsmith, Steve Coogan, has been unceremoniously ousted from the BBC and feels depressed as he is not sure which career to pursue. He eventually decides to write a human interest story about Philomena Lee, Judi Dench, who became pregnant at a young age and was forced into a nunnery by her family where she gave birth to her child, Anthony. She was forced to do labor for free in order to get out and her son was given to an American family to be adopted against her will. The nuns stonewall all of Lee's attempts to find out about her son and the two later learn that they burnt all documentation of the adoption. Fortunately Sixsmith has contacts in the United States that help them track down her son. Sadly all is not what it seems but a close relationship does form between Sixsmith and Lee that helps both of them to grow as people. Dench is stellar in the leading role as she blends the quirks of a cute old lady with the emotional depths of some of her more serious roles in A Room with a View (1985) and Iris (2001). All of this adds up to emotional devastation for the audience as we feel an intense rush of sympathy for this lovely older woman who has faced so much in her life and yet is willing to forgive those responsible for her suffering. She is matched by Coogan who, while he has the less emotional role, embodies his character perfectly with his typical biting wit and an unexpected touch of sadness. Together they are utterly charming as Dench recounts the plots of ludicrous romance novels to him while he remains politely disinterested before finally giving over to her deceptively strong will. The film is also able to target an incredibly scary issue as uneducated young women find themselves pregnant with no support system and have all of their options removed in favor of being exploited by a tyrannical religious organization. Yes, the nuns can seem a bit broad strokes at times but the justifications they present are those that real figures responsible for similar problems have provided and the self righteousness with which they speak makes them almost pitiable as they are unaware of how cruel they are. Contrary to what some believe the film is not anti-religion as the main character retains her religious principles by being forgiving of others for their ‘sins' and the villains are condemned not because they are religious but because they took a child away from his vulnerable mother and then used her for their purposes. You feel angry that this happened at the end of the film but also uplifted as while Lee lived a tragic life she remained friendly to those around her and has not lost her ability to forgive. The film's screenplay should have won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award because it's witty, warm and capable of dealing with serious issues at once. 12 Years a Slave (2013), the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay winner, was a film that I had significant issues with in terms of it's writing and I think it's ‘weighty' themes may have helped it more than it deserved. Many scoffed at the Best Picture nomination that this film earned but I preferred it to several of the other nominees, most notably 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Her (2013), and it is nice to see a smaller film receive this level of recognition. The weepie has evolved since the days of Written on the Wind (1955) and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) as it has evolved beyond beautiful movie stars facing improbable obstacles while trying to be in a relationship. Now, this type of film can feature regular looking people who face tragedies not related to their lover marrying somebody else or dying in a historical tragedy. This film is a prime example of the genre as it succeeds due to a winning screenplay and two complex, nuanced performers that are sure to move audiences. While I have never considered Stephen Frears to be a ‘great' director he knew to keep this film fairly short and let the actors do all the work. Journalist Martin Sixsmith, Steve Coogan, has been unceremoniously ousted from the BBC and feels depressed as he is not sure which career to pursue. He eventually decides to write a human interest story about Philomena Lee, Judi Dench, who became pregnant at a young age and was forced into a nunnery by her family where she gave birth to her child, Anthony. She was forced to do labor for free in order to get out and her son was given to an American family to be adopted against her will. The nuns stonewall all of Lee's attempts to find out about her son and the two later learn that they burnt all documentation of the adoption. Fortunately Sixsmith has contacts in the United States that help them track down her son. Sadly all is not what it seems but a close relationship does form between Sixsmith and Lee that helps both of them to grow as people. Dench is stellar in the leading role as she blends the quirks of a cute old lady with the emotional depths of some of her more serious roles in A Room with a View (1985) and Iris (2001). All of this adds up to emotional devastation for the audience as we feel an intense rush of sympathy for this lovely older woman who has faced so much in her life and yet is willing to forgive those responsible for her suffering. She is matched by Coogan who, while he has the less emotional role, embodies his character perfectly with his typical biting wit and an unexpected touch of sadness. Together they are utterly charming as Dench recounts the plots of ludicrous romance novels to him while he remains politely disinterested before finally giving over to her deceptively strong will. The film is also able to target an incredibly scary issue as uneducated young women find themselves pregnant with no support system and have all of their options removed in favor of being exploited by a tyrannical religious organization. Yes, the nuns can seem a bit broad strokes at times but the justifications they present are those that real figures responsible for similar problems have provided and the self righteousness with which they speak makes them almost pitiable as they are unaware of how cruel they are. Contrary to what some believe the film is not anti-religion as the main character retains her religious principles by being forgiving of others for their ‘sins' and the villains are condemned not because they are religious but because they took a child away from his vulnerable mother and then used her for their purposes. You feel angry that this happened at the end of the film but also uplifted as while Lee lived a tragic life she remained friendly to those around her and has not lost her ability to forgive. The film's screenplay should have won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award because it's witty, warm and capable of dealing with serious issues at once. 12 Years a Slave (2013), the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay winner, was a film that I had significant issues with in terms of it's writing and I think it's ‘weighty' themes may have helped it more than it deserved. Many scoffed at the Best Picture nomination that this film earned but I preferred it to several of the other nominees, most notably 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Her (2013), and it is nice to see a smaller film receive this level of recognition.

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    Serge E Super Reviewer
    Jul 07, 2019

    Loved this film to bits!

    Loved this film to bits!

  • Feb 16, 2019

    Coogan is brilliant here in both writing and acting. His subtle yet heartfelt performance makes this movie a true gem. As for Philomena, I admit, her holier than thou figure annoyed me more than once while watching the movie. I am not sure whether she was indeed like that or whether the sanctification has been made for dramatic purposes. Still, Dench manages to not overdo it and to stay just within the confines of the believable. She might, indeed, have felt great anger and even more, but managed to process it within herself and still keep it quiet and polite. The whole affair is a subtle and deep study of the human nature, of its ugly and evil and beautiful sides. I think the movie also serves as a great example of the hypocrisy and cruelty of some representatives of the Christian faith--not that we haven't known it already but it's a useful reminder.

    Coogan is brilliant here in both writing and acting. His subtle yet heartfelt performance makes this movie a true gem. As for Philomena, I admit, her holier than thou figure annoyed me more than once while watching the movie. I am not sure whether she was indeed like that or whether the sanctification has been made for dramatic purposes. Still, Dench manages to not overdo it and to stay just within the confines of the believable. She might, indeed, have felt great anger and even more, but managed to process it within herself and still keep it quiet and polite. The whole affair is a subtle and deep study of the human nature, of its ugly and evil and beautiful sides. I think the movie also serves as a great example of the hypocrisy and cruelty of some representatives of the Christian faith--not that we haven't known it already but it's a useful reminder.

  • Dec 30, 2018

    Beautifully acted. A disturbing but also heart-warming story. Reflects profoundly on the nature of religion and forgiveness.

    Beautifully acted. A disturbing but also heart-warming story. Reflects profoundly on the nature of religion and forgiveness.

  • Dec 23, 2018

    Gobsmacking, and ultimately touching, story, Coogan is not completely convincing as Sixsmith, but at least doesn't revert to all his usual Partridge-like tics (perhaps well directed by Frears), while the latter dials up the hysteria when it could have been more subtly done, but hey, that's his style.

    Gobsmacking, and ultimately touching, story, Coogan is not completely convincing as Sixsmith, but at least doesn't revert to all his usual Partridge-like tics (perhaps well directed by Frears), while the latter dials up the hysteria when it could have been more subtly done, but hey, that's his style.

  • Dec 21, 2018

    As much as "Philomena" is a delightfully satisfying portrait of a morally inspiring woman with an epic resolve and terrific character, the movie also possesses a seriously pervasive undercurrent of journalistic intrigue, where you -- the audience member -- are utterly riveted from the moment Dench and Coogan set off on their journey until it finally comes to a close. It's like a good true crime narrative, but replace the shock value with genuine pathos and the central suspect with one of the finest people I've seen depicted in a movie in a long time. "Philomena" is a triumphant, beautiful, and unquestionably fascinating depiction of an equally fascinating true story.

    As much as "Philomena" is a delightfully satisfying portrait of a morally inspiring woman with an epic resolve and terrific character, the movie also possesses a seriously pervasive undercurrent of journalistic intrigue, where you -- the audience member -- are utterly riveted from the moment Dench and Coogan set off on their journey until it finally comes to a close. It's like a good true crime narrative, but replace the shock value with genuine pathos and the central suspect with one of the finest people I've seen depicted in a movie in a long time. "Philomena" is a triumphant, beautiful, and unquestionably fascinating depiction of an equally fascinating true story.

  • Dec 16, 2018

    Really, really liked it. The story inspired me a lot about forgiveness and how different people few that topic. Also it was good to see the story of the laundries come to light.

    Really, really liked it. The story inspired me a lot about forgiveness and how different people few that topic. Also it was good to see the story of the laundries come to light.

  • Sep 02, 2018

    A very lovely film that...honestly, I watched it only because Judi Dench starred in it. Being such a supremely talented actress, she is portrays the lovely old lady persona that she usually plays on the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed the film despite its wistful and poignant plot, as Judi Dench's portrayal of Philomena's sense of humour and lighthearted spirit makes the intense, true-story subject matter more manageable to digest.

    A very lovely film that...honestly, I watched it only because Judi Dench starred in it. Being such a supremely talented actress, she is portrays the lovely old lady persona that she usually plays on the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed the film despite its wistful and poignant plot, as Judi Dench's portrayal of Philomena's sense of humour and lighthearted spirit makes the intense, true-story subject matter more manageable to digest.

  • Jun 18, 2018

    A precious story of a mother forced to give up her child for adoption seeking to reconnect at a later age with the assistance of a journalist. What they find is surprising, heartbreaking and a lesson on everyone's individuality and humanity.

    A precious story of a mother forced to give up her child for adoption seeking to reconnect at a later age with the assistance of a journalist. What they find is surprising, heartbreaking and a lesson on everyone's individuality and humanity.

  • May 01, 2018

    what's done is done.. Philomena The exaggeration of one's affection and the keen sense of hunger towards the personality is projected with utter beauty and through little maniacal things that actually sweetens it up. Steven Coogan and Jeff Pope's adaptation from Martin Sixsmith's book may be short and edited nicely but isn't smart or effective as the writers think. If the script is a let down, then Stephen Frears saves it brilliantly through its amazing execution skills that doesn't fail to impress the audience. Judi Dench stands alone on performance in here as she is the core strength and the highlight of the feature despite of Steve Coogan's decent act. Philomena is surely an important feature that draws out essential questions and emotions on screen but on terms of drama; that is its genre, it fails to create the anticipated impact.

    what's done is done.. Philomena The exaggeration of one's affection and the keen sense of hunger towards the personality is projected with utter beauty and through little maniacal things that actually sweetens it up. Steven Coogan and Jeff Pope's adaptation from Martin Sixsmith's book may be short and edited nicely but isn't smart or effective as the writers think. If the script is a let down, then Stephen Frears saves it brilliantly through its amazing execution skills that doesn't fail to impress the audience. Judi Dench stands alone on performance in here as she is the core strength and the highlight of the feature despite of Steve Coogan's decent act. Philomena is surely an important feature that draws out essential questions and emotions on screen but on terms of drama; that is its genre, it fails to create the anticipated impact.