Written by: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (adapted from the book ‘The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee’ by Martin Sixsmith)
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
Story: Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) is a journalist pursuing a human interest piece based on Philomena Lee, who was induced into giving her first child up to Irish nuns.
Directed by Stephen Frears, who has earned acclaim for films such as ‘The Queen’, ‘Philomena’ is a rich, witty drama which will resonate with anybody who has a social conscience.
When you take a book like ‘The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee’ and attempt to turn it into a movie, it would be very easy to fall into a Nicholas Sparks type trap of creating something soaked in apathy and desperate for tears. This is not the case with Philomena, which draws brilliantly on the comedic talents of both Steve Coogan and Judi Dench to master the fine balance between laughing and crying.
The story is not too simple, but not complex enough to drown out the true emotion of the matter at hand. I have heard people say that this film serves to only bastardise the Catholic Church, however when one actually takes the time to watch this movie from start to finish, something different starts to permeate your mind.
Judi Dench plays the role of Philomena to absolute perfection, and one may indeed find themselves hanging on to every single word she says until the credits begin to roll. Joining on her journey to find her long lost son, who she finds was actually sold for adoption in the United States, Steve Coogan gives us Martin Sixsmith in all his glory. This totally mismatched pair have an incredible mother/son chemistry on screen and their opposing views provoke even more thought in the audience: Where Sixsmith builds increasing resentment towards the Catholic Church, Philomena possesses an impenetrable capacity to forgive and live on. It is impossible to take sides.
Frears is not fussy in his direction, instead choosing to play his part minimally and leave the rest to the script which was masterfully written by Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan. The movie plays out quickly, and doesn’t mess about with unnecessary characters or detail.
All in all, those who watch will find themselves captivated by an unavoidable “PhiloMania”: an attachment to this story which perhaps has different significance for each and every individual.
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