Summary: Philomena is the true story of an Irish Catholic woman (Judi Dench) who decides to find her son more than fifty years after she was forced, as an unmarried mother, to give him up for adoption. As scornful of ‘human interest’ journalism as he is distressed by the scandal that shortened his career as a political advisor, Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) reluctantly agrees to meet Philomena and hear her story . A true odd couple – the sheltered, elderly woman and the dry, world-weary ex-BBC journo – Philomena and Martin embark on a journey together that takes them from a convent in rural Ireland to the White House in Washington DC.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December, 2013
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: USA, UK, France
Director: Stephen Frears
Screenwriter: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope, Martin Sixsmith (book)
Cast: Mai Arwas (Megan), Xavier Atkins (Michael Hess Aged 14), Amber Batty (Marge), Cathy Belton (Sister Claire), Saorise Bowen (Young Mary), Tadhg Bowen (Young Anthony), Sophie Kennedy Clark (Young Philomena), Steve Coogan (Martin Sixsmith), Harrison D”Ampney (Anthony 8-10 Years), Judi Dench (Philomena), Charles Edwards (David), Michelle Fairley (Sally Mitchell), Kate Fleetwood (Young Sister Hildegarde), Donal Haughey (Declan), Peter Hermann (Pete Olsson), Barbara Jefford (Sister Hildegarde), Nicholas Jones (Dr. Robert), Simone Lahbib (Kate Sixsmith), Elliot Levey (Alex), Sean Mahon (Michael), Anna Maxwell Martin (Jane), Amy McAllister (Sister Anunciata), Ruth McCabe (Mother Barbara), D.J. McGrath (John), Nika McGuigan (Bridie), Charlie Murphy (Kathleen),Ronald Reagan (himself), Charissa Shearer (Peg), Sara Stewart (Marcia Weller), Rachel Wilcock (Mamie), Mare Winningham (Mary)
Runtime: 98 mins
OUR PHILOMENA REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Please check Greg’s review of ‘Philomena’ that is available on www.filmreviews.net.au
If somebody had told me at the start of the year that British comedic actor Steve Coogan would have starred in two of the most heartfelt and emotional films of the year I would have told them they were dreaming. But cinema can be a weird thing and Coogan follows up his portrayal of the uncaring father in “What Maisie Knew” with another strong dramatic performance in one of the surprise hits of the year “Philomena.”
“Philomena” tells the true story of former BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) who after finding himself unfairly publicly disgraced decides to take on one of those dreaded ‘human interest stories.’ Soon he finds himself teaming up with the sweet-but-not-so-innocent elderly Philomena (Judi Dench) who harbors a secret she’s been holding onto for years.
Unknown to her family Philomena gave birth to a son 50 years earlier, however due to the fact that she was single at the time and brought disgrace to her family she was shipped off to a convent where she was placed through an unsafe labour and then told to work off her sin while her son was sold to a well-off American couple for $1,000. As the years go on not a day goes by where Philomena doesn’t think about her lost son or what became of him, so now with Martin in tow they go in search of the son that Philomena never really knew.
To his credit director Stephen Frears (mainly known for his work on “The Queen”) doesn’t just make this heartfelt Oscar bait. Furthermore he also doesn’t full into the same trap as “Closed Circuit” and make the audience feel that they are watching a British telemovie. Instead Frears has delivered a film that does indeed cause an emotional response from the audience but also goes into that ‘buddy’ film territory… a hell of a lot better than the film “The Guilt Trip” did earlier this year.
Yes Frears does tell a story that the world needs to see and exposes yet another crime against humanity committed by the Catholic Church, but at the same time he delivers two likable characters and injects a little humor into the film as the worldly Sixsmith plays tour guide to Philomena, someone who has never ventured out of the United Kingdom before. And while I won’t give away the ending Frears sticks to the true story which may not be what Hollywood would have wanted him to do… credit must be paid for sticking to his guns.
As most film fans already know this film has Judi Dench’s name being bandied around for Oscar contention. Rightfully so as she delivers a strong dramatic performance laced with moments of comedic brilliance, but it does seem a little unfair that Steve Coogan’s name also hasn’t been mentioned in this circles and he puts in one of the few perfect performances of the year. Coogan and Dench rebound their comedy together well, but Coogan doesn’t just rest on getting laughs, no he also has to deliver some dramatic moments and he does it surprisingly well.
“Philomena” is a heartfelt film so get ready to cry when you are watching it, but once again Frears gets the best out of his cast and once again makes a film that is will stand the test of time. “Philomena” is one of the Brits’ finest films for 2013.
Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Philomena′: Please check our Philomena review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep 63.