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Published December 15, 2013

Philomena, like many films recently (Captain PhillipsGood VibrationsOne Chance), is based on a true story. Based on the 2009 investigative book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by veteran journalist Martin Sixsmith, it centres on the titular character, who gave birth out of wedlock as a young woman.

Conflicting with her Irish Catholic upbringing, her child was given away for adoption in the United States. After creating a new life and family many years later in England and having moved on from the hardship of the times, Lee (Judi Dench) is introduced to Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) a BBC reporter. Together, after fifty years of wondering what happened to him, they decide to find her son.  


I have always been a fan of Judi Dench; she is not only a great actress, but in my honest opinion, one of the great actresses to have ever lived. She can drift from Shakespearian queens to dementia ridden authors and back again with the click of a finger. She is a lady that never gives a bad performance even if the movie itself isn’t to the standard her talents should command. Her performance in Philomena is no exception and it’s no wonder there is Oscar buzz around her for this charming and heart breaking film.

Steve Coogan co-stars with Dench as a reporter and her unlikely companion in this journey. I must admit that I’m not too familiar with his work, but he proves himself to be a great foil to Dench in his role as Martin Sixsmith, a down on his luck BBC journalist.

Philomena Judi Dench

While the film is based on a real person and real events that are really quite sad at times, Dench and Coogan still manage to find great humour in their performances and weave great layers into their characters. I don’t want to give too much away in this review as I honestly believe this is a film people must see, for its subject manner and of course for its performances.

The only criticism of the film I could think of comes in the way it was edited. When there are dramatic moments in the film, I felt they cut away from them too quickly, not allowing for the pitch perfect Judi Dench to play out her character’s emotions to their fullest extent.

However having said that I demand that people go and see this film, it will make you want to cry, make you happy and laugh, but most of all it will leave you in awe of Judi Dench and her marvellous performance.


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