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Review from Cinegeoff.blogspot.com

January 20, 2015

Philomena

Director: Stephen Frears

Lead Actors: Judi Dench, Stephen Coogan

Producer: Tracy Seaward

Plot Synopsis:

Philomena, a lovely, soulful elderly lady from working class Ireland mournfully commemorates her would-be son’s 50th birthday. This is the son she had young, out of wedlock, and was forced to adopt out to Catholic nuns who sold the child to US parents.

Philomena is played at Oscar speed by Dame Judi Dench.

We also meet Martin Sixsmith when his career as a political journalist is in huge turmoil. The writers and director spare us the details of what Sixsmith did to fall out of grace from the elite, British, journalistic world. But, we are assured by several pundits that it is bad, as his face flashes across all major news networks.
One journalist describes the situation by stating that the organization Sixsmith worked for had to eat “humble pie with a side of grovel soup” because of his actions.

In an early scene for Sixsmith, he is getting a checkup to see if he is depressed, because he feels aweful. He is still brooding later on at a party where his colleagues are teasing him about his career disaster. This is when Philomena’s daughter, a caterer at the party, approaches him and asks him to investigate the whereabouts of Philomena’s first son.

Sixsmith, who more than anything needs to get out of the house, agrees to look into it. Eventually,this leads to the pairing of Sixsmith and Philomena, who make the ultimate odd couple. Sixsmith is a disgruntled, angry, atheist journalist who had been living the high life in London and riding first class and renting luxury cars.
Philomena is charismatic and god-fearing, and charms every single person she meets. She is not used to first-class anything, and even hoards the croutons at an all-you-can eat salad bar during their first meeting.

Sixsmith pitches the story to a magazine, and the magazine pays for the two to journey to the United States to find out whatever happened to Philomena’s first child. This moves things forward – but really the fate and whereabouts of Philomena’s son takes backstage in this movie to the fascinating relationship that develops between these two.

Who Would Like it and Why

Fans of good acting. Dench is at her best as the hardy Philomena with a heart of gold. She is flawless. Memorable. Also, fans of Cougan will be delighted to see him play a serious role in a serious movie. It is no small thing to act opposite Dame Dench, and he seems to hold his own.

Who Might not Like it and Why

I was hoping for a bloody buxomy holiday splash with underwear models and fight scenes. But went to Philomena because I was being treated to it, and I was thoroughly pleased. While this movie lacks physical sweat, Dench’s sinking her teeth into a meaty, tricky role and nailing it dead on the nose will hook just about any movie-goer.

Yes, Dench won me over with her graduate-level seminar on acting. I think few people would walk away with this movie displeased. She won an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love a few years back – that role lasted for only eight minutes. This is a much better exercise for one of the industry’s finest to show us how it’s done. My Unfiltered Opinion I think the directors of the Twilight series should be subjected to a triple showing of this movie so they can understand real acting.

Highlights/Top Scenes

Coogan’s face when he finds out what has happened to Philomena’s son. Some of the scenes where Philomena is describing to Sixsimth, a writer by trade, the plot twists in her romance novels. These scenes were artfully extended as the director also recognized the good humor in them. There is another scene when Coogan attacks God and Philomena snaps and calls him a “feckin idiot”, which I can only take to mean “an f-ng idiot” in Galic.

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