Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Written By: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 38 min
This movie is based on the book, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee from 2009. A powerful mystery in which Philomena, with the help of BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, searches for her son who was sold to a wealthy American couple for a thousand pounds by deeply pious Catholic Nuns in the 1950’s. The film mainly stays focused on Philomena and Martin’s investigation, but frequently provides clips of her son’s life through old 8mm footage and vhs recordings. It’s a powerful true story to be sure, and also a tale about religious faith and forgiveness.
The film’s main strength comes from its two leading performances by Judy Dench and Steve Coogan. It also never gets overly sentimental and mushy. Stephen Frears keeps things moving along nicely, and there some nice moments of humor as the very different personalities of Philomena and Martin collide.
This movie presents the story from two perspectives. Philomena’s faith and belief in god, and those of her atheist companion Martin. Each is given their due at the end of the film, and each have something valid to present. Where you fall between these two points might effect your enjoyment of this film. It isn’t very forgiving of the Catholic Nuns who sold Philomena’s child, but it also doesn’t paint all the Nun’s with the same brush. In the end, you are left to make your own judgment on these events.
The film is expertly made, but I didn’t see or hear anything that required a big screen. You would enjoy this just as much at home with a HD viewing.
Best element for me:
The performances from Judy Dench and Steve Coogan.