Oscar nominations 9: Philomena Review

Reclaiming the Past

By Adam Sturrock

Philomena (2013)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope

Cast: Steve Coogan, Judi Dench

Length: 98mins

Rounding off the last of the Oscar best film nominations is Philomena, a true story about the 50 year long endeavor to reunite a mother and her son.

Set during the UK Blair cabinet, journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) is left jobless after being sacked by the labor government for an unsavory comment in an email. After reluctantly meeting an elderly woman called Philomena (Dench), he agrees to help her find her long, lost son who was adopted at a young age. Their bread crumb trail helps them resolve long-time problems regarding sin and accepting the past.

I felt that the film had great pacing and consistently plowed on from place to place without much of a lull in plot. Steve Coogan has a very marmite, dry acting style that some may dislike but I found that he complimented Dench’s innocent wonder in the film excellently

The film, which was partially written by Coogan, suffers from a skewed framing of religion. Some would say that it demonises Catholics and puts them in a bad light, painting them as heartless. Philomena, played by the consistent Dame Judi Dench, is often seen as very naive which may be endearing to the audience, but it does get kind of grating and a lot of the humor is down to Phil’s lack of street-sense.

Disregarding these flaws, the actual basis of the story is a compelling one, highlighting the injustices of “shamed” mothers giving up their children for adoption.  The topic of it is still somewhat touchy and the filming of such a script centered around the issue is a bold move if not anything. It really goes into depth as to how sin was used as a basis to shame young mothers who were scared witless by their faith. I felt that the story, inevitably suffers due to its focus on the consequences of guilt rather than the human aspect however. Both actors are wonderful, quirks aside and have helped create a solid, albeit, controversial film.

What did you guys think? Let me know in the comment section below.


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