Sunday, 6 April 2014


Steve Coogan and Judi Dench perform in a peculiar but brilliant partnership as Martin Sixsmith and Philomena Lee. Martin, a disgraced Government spokesperson and former journalist helps Philomena in her fight to find her long lost son after he was promptly adopted by an American couple after his unplanned birth. Beneath the compelling and emotionally tormenting story is a film that challenges ideals that most prefer swept under the rug. Loosely adapted from the book “The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee”, written by the character that Coogan so fantastically portrays. The movie, it must be said, dramatises many of the books events.

Most movies nowadays are stagnant remakes of classic masterplots with very few details changed in the actual storyline, but Philomena does well to avoid these clich├ęs. Adapted from the book about the true story, Philomena is a both heart-wrenching and heart-warming tale that will have the most hardened of you blubbering like a child. Bringing into light many things kept in the shadows, Philomena tackles serious subjects, such as the laundering of children to the Catholic Church in America that ran on for longer than most would care to admit, but amongst these topics is a subtle humour that only the likes of Coogan and Dench can pull off.

Wonderful cinematography and great acting are both overshadowed by what is essentially, a bloody good story. Despite no painfully tense moments or moments of mass action, we still react as if these things were happening. We care so much about these two characters that we invest every last bit of our emotions in them, and when they crumble so do we, and when they rise again like a Phoenix, so do our hearts.

The script truly is flawless. There are no awkward moments of speech and nothing that seems out of place, everything fits together like a jigsaw, and it’s this that not only holds the movie together, but puts it up there with one of the greatest films of the last decade. Dramas are becoming more and more popular among the general public, Saving Mr. Banks and American Hustle to name but a couple, and Philomena has perhaps set the bar for all that come after it. The amount of awards it was nominated for at the big shows is impressive, though sadly it lost out in most categories. When you watch it though, you don’t feel saddened for it. It was not made to win awards or to break box office records; it was made to exemplify what is remarkable writing and to prove that you don’t need big budgets and special effects to achieve a perfect film.

What really makes this film stand out, for me, is that it is truly human. It tells a real story that happened within our world, not the fictional world we see on screen. It restores our faith in the world and in British cinema.

An absolute masterpiece, Philomena gets a 5/5, [★★★★★]

Jonny Naylor

Philomena at CeX

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