Philomena: Review

Image from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2431286/
There were four other people in the screening of Philomena I went to today. Most likely due to the competition of Thor.
It’s a crying shame because despite it having no special effects or loud action sequences, it’s a far superior film.
It’s based on the true story of Philomena Lee who with the help of a disgruntled journalist, Martin Sixsmith, begins a search for her son who was taken away from her decades before as she was forced to live in a convent.
This particular premise will undoubtedly lead most people (it did me) to believe that Philomena would be a melodramatic drama with a schmaltz laced ending. This isn’t the case though and whilst overall it’s a powerful and touching film, it doesn’t rely too heavily on the actors performance nor classic filmic tricks to pull at your heart strings.
Director, Stephen Frears simply allows the story to unfold, hardly touched, making for a very real, very human film.
Another misconception people may have with Philomena is that it’s a film for the older generation, boring fuddy duddies who enjoy a good cry at the cinema. However again, this isn’t the case and the film packs quite a few laughs into it’s brisk one hour and forty minutes run time. Not over the top Marvel laughs but subtle, clever ones which give us an insight into the characters.
I’d put this down in part to Steve Coogan who shares a screenplay credit with Jeff Pope on top of his producer credit and his lead performance as Martin Sixsmith.
Said performance is excellent and the way he plays his intellectual, atheist, snob of a journalist against Dame Judi Dench’s god fearing, trashy book reading, middle class Philomena is the main reason the film worked so well for me.
Judi Dench by the way, gives a superb performance as Philomena. Again, it’s not over the top and melodramatic but none the less is as charming and captivating as we’ve come to expect from the dame.
Philomena as a whole, takes a somewhat simple “human interest” story and turns it into much more, dealing to a degree with themes of journalistic integrity and religion but never losing sight of the main focus of the plot, it’s characters.
Witty, clever and neat. It’s a film almost everybody should enjoy and come out for the most part emotionally unscathed.
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