February 27, 2013
“Philomena” is based off of the true tale of an Irish woman who is searching for her son after being forced to give him up for adoption as a toddler. To help her, her daughter enlists the aid of a disgraced journalist.
The film excels at contrasting the amicable Philomena Lee, played by Dame Judi Dench, with the cynical Martin Sixsmith who was brought to life by Steve Coogan. One of the best juxtapositions of their personalities comes in a scene in a hotel buffet where Philomena is happily chatting with the staff while Martin, quite obviously not a morning person, brushes them off rather abruptly.
Dench beautifully brings to life a sweet grandmother, with bursts of Irish temperment. Coogan works just as well, making the audience forget that he is only an actor. A main conflict in the film is religion, or rather, the extreme differences the two main characters have in their outlook on it. Philomena, despite all her struggles with the nuns who took her child from her and the hard work she was forced to endure as penance, remains firm in her beliefs. Martin, however, is very distant from religion and often criticizes it, much to Philomena’s annoyance.
Another issue addressed in “Philomena” is journalists and their stereotypical tendency to be impersonal towards their subjects. As a reporter myself, this subject was particularly interesting for me and I encourage anybody interested in ethics to watch it.
Because it is similar to a biographical film, the plot is very straightforward with very little unexpected twists. That being said, it still managed to keep me intrigued as the story unfolded. It was as if the audience was with Philomena and Martin through their entire search, feeling their emotions with them.
Unfortunately, I have a limited space to write this, because I could go on about how terrific this movie is. I can’t give it anything fewer than five stars.