Movies as sweet as Philomena don’t come along all too often. The film, which is based on a true story, is anchored by a marvelous and Oscar-worthy turn by the incomparable Dame Judi Dench, and will send you out of the theater feeling quite emotional. It’s a beautiful story of faith, motherhood, and unconditional love, and I absolutely loved it.
Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) just got sacked from his big-time government job, so he’s now looking to keep himself occupied. As he tries to decide whether he’s going to take up running as a hobby or work on a Russian history book, he learns about Philomena (Judi Dench), a woman who was forced to give up her child 50 years ago and work in a convent as punishment. Philomena hasn’t seen her child since he was taken from her, and has thought about him every single day. When Martin decides to cover Philomena’s story and help her find her son, their search sends them all the way to the United States.
Honestly, I just wanted to jump through the screen and give Judi Dench a massive hug. She’s so lovable and sweet as the religious and wide-eyed Philomena that you just want her to be happy and find exactly what she’s looking for. I thought Cate Blanchett gave the year’s best female performance in “Blue Jasmine”, but I was more taken with Dench’s work, and I’d be ecstatic to see her win the Academy Award. Steve Coogan also does a great job as Martin, and I love the contrast between his cynicism and world-weariness to Philomena’s hopefulness and naiveté.
The film is also quite funny, and even when things take a turn for the worst, it never forgets to make the audience laugh. Coogan not only stars in the movie, but he also co-wrote and co-produced it, and he’s made the wise choice to sprinkle the story with a lot of laughs. The jokes never come at the expense of Philomena’s faith, and the movie doesn’t really take sides when it comes to religion vs atheism; it just presents two different perspectives and lets you relate to the one you prefer. I teared up multiple times during the flick, which is a testament to the power of this story, and again, to Dench’s pitch-perfect performance.
Sweet, funny, and lovable, “Philomena” will warm your heart.
Numerical Score: 9/10
Originally Posted on A Geek's Blog
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