From Stephen Frears, director of The Queen, Philomena is a funny yet thought-provoking film.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan give strong performances as Lee and Sixsmith, but the true star is ultimately the script. Written by Coogan and Jeff Pope and based on Sixsmith’s account of the true story, it deals with themes including faith, family, identity and forgiveness with sincerity as well as humour.
Occasionally, though, that humour is played slightly too broad and predictable. Although an involving and emotive story told with simple and understated direction, in the end it feels oddly televisual rather than cinematic.
Surprisingly harrowing at times, the film avoids becoming an overwrought melodrama through the balance in characterisation between Martin’s cynicism and Philomena’s faith. However, despite the script and performances, it lacked the power to truly amaze as a piece of cinema.
CAST: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Michelle Fairley, Sophie Kennedy Clark
DIRECTOR: Stephen Frears
WRITERS: Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope
SYNOPSIS: As a teen, Irish Catholic Philomena Lee had her baby son taken away from her by the nuns at her convent and sold to an American family. Fifty years later, she and struggling journalist Martin Sixsmith embark on a quest to find him.