Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Philomena

Release date: November 27, 2013
Running time: 98 minutes
Starring: Judi Dench, Mare Winningham, Michelle Fairley, Steve Coogan
Who to see it with: 


The movie poster for this film is deceiving. From the image, I thought this would be a comedy but boy was I wrong. What you get is a complex detective movie, based on a true story, where Philomena (Dench), an older mother, tries to track down her child that she was forced to abandon years earlier. Philomena, as an old school Irish Catholic, became pregnant with her son Anthony out of wedlock. Because of her religion and the Irish Catholic community at the time, having a child out of wedlock was unacceptable. She teams up with recently unemployed journalist Martin (Coogan) and the two begin a journey to track down Anthony. 

The strongest aspect of Philomena are the characters. Dench is fantastic as Philomena, with the right amount of naivety, optimism, and insight. Initially Philomena appears to be out of her element, yet she occasionally makes some very sharp observations that her world-traveled companion should learn from. Coogan is equally great as a jaded, but genuine journalist who reluctantly agrees to help but eventually becomes very involved in the mystery. You really get to know and love these characters because of the amazing acting and the sharp writing. Both of them are well developed and their interactions form the heart of this movie. The story goes through many different phases, which keeps the viewers guessing. Although there are curve balls thrown here and there, they feel natural and don't seem to be thrown in simply to give the audience something unexpected. The most remarkable aspect of this story is that its based on real events; by the end you will experience a truly unique journey that, thankfully, seems to stick to the more believable end of the "based on true events" spectrum. Philomena is a great journey based on unbelievable events; you get to know and follow two wonderful characters as they take on an impossible task. 

Watch it.

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