Thursday, January 23, 2014

Philomena - Movie Review

Starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
Directed by Stephen Frears.


The Magdalene Sisters was a very powerful film exposing the horrors of the Magdalene asylums run by the Catholic Church, but it was also clearly made by someone who was furious with the Church. This film takes a more temperate, patient approach, and the issues are much more complicated than "nuns are evil."

Judi Dench plays Philomena Lee, a woman who confesses something to her daughter that she hadn't told anyone. When she was a teenage girl in 1952 Ireland, she'd become pregnant, and she was sent to a Magdalene asylum where they forced her to give her baby up for adoption. It was now his 50th birthday.

Steve Coogan plays Martin Sixsmith, a former BBC reporter who decides to taker her story as a "human interest" piece, even though the thought nauseates him. The two of them go back and forth between buddy comedy and moving drama, as they try to track down her son.

It's a great examination of where faith and forgiveness, without letting anyone off the hook either. It rises and falls on the chemistry of Dench and Coogan, and they're great. Coogan co-wrote it, and he's given himself probably his best dramatic part to date.

I saw it at the $2 theater. If it's still around, do yourself a favor and catch one of this year's Best Picture nominees on the big screen.

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