Film Review – Philomena (2013)


Philomena-2013Back when I was a sophomore, I took a Film Studies class. This is as strange as it may get for a wannabe classicist, but it was a fun experience after all. I only signed up for the module because I needed a filler course for 20 credits, but in the end I learned a thing or two about cinematography and I don’t regret it. The thing is I didn’t have a clue about how to write a film review and this is why I scored quite low on my first essay about a Japanese movie about abandoned children. That was the moment I decided to read a bit more into how to write a proper film review. The result was a good overall module mark,  a subscription to IndieWire reviews, and the urge to write about films I see once in a while.

At any rate, last night I watched “Philomena’, which was on my “to watch list” for too long. Judi Dench and Steve Coogan make an unexpected couple in this movie about a mother who has been searching for her long lost son for half a century. ‘Philomena’ is based on a true story and while viewers may find the plot quite sad and even simplistic in some respects, the movie reveals to be a multi-faceted affair. It is a road trip adventure, mystery movie, and comedy all rolled into one.

Judi Dench’s performance as Philomena never disappoints. When you think about Dench, you may envisage M from the Bond series, but with ‘Philomena’, Dench proves that she can do justice to any role. In this particular case, she plays a middle-class commoner of quite modest tastes. She loves her salad-bar croutons and seems to enjoy romance fiction to an extent where she wants to share it with the whole world. Steve Coogan does a great job, too, but his performance is often overshadowed by Dench’s.

What annoyed me about the movie was Philomena’s attitude towards the church. The Catholic Church practically sold her son to the highest bidder, but she still finds them at no fault. She is excessively polite and forgiving, which looks a bit too much for any regular person with or without faith in God. If someone did that to me,  I sure wouldn’t be having tea and cookies with them over some small talk. On the other hand, the abusive way in which single, unmarried mothers were treated in 1950s Ireland is well-portrayed and it’s reason enough to see the movie.



6 thoughts on “Film Review – Philomena (2013)

  1. Great review.

    In my opinion I found reasonable her attitude towards Church. I couldn’t imagine her aggressive. Her innocence, modesty, kindness is actually remarkable.

    Great learning for me from her attitude, no matter what happens in life, I actually never need to keep the hate inside me, I simply need to move on, let the past and explore the future with a smile upon my face.

    She is simple, natural as a child is. There was no need to keep the anger inside her when was no point or time for this. She was not the only one that lost her son and her choice was to think about him every day, miss him and care about him in her way, her choice was not to blame someone for her drama, she never behaved like a victim and she understood that if she was fighting with the Church she wouldn’t have won and her attitude will make her life and people around her miserable.

    I learned that when stuff happen in life and there are not in your power to change them you need to give up the battle with the system and make your day worth living. She knew that was her fault for this, I am not criticising her, because she made sex and she was very young and because she got pregnant, she knew that there are consequences for her behaviour, back then when the Church was having so much power of decision and nobody could stop them, they did them best. The child in them opinion was having a better life in an adopted family and not with the mother, who was young, without work, without a home, without a stability, who was not fit in them opinion to provide and rise the kid.

    Healthy people can make kids but not anyone can be a parent.

    In my opinion right and wrong doesn’t exist. People always did them best with the little information that they had. For sure there exist actions and consequences of actions.

    I am grateful that I live in 2014, in UK, and those things seems so far away from my present now.

    Thank you for sharing this article about a movie that touched me.


  2. Enjoyed reading your review as I have this movie on my ‘ to watch’ list. This film deals with a sensitive topic and sometimes I feel I have to be in a certain mood to watch a powerful movie. That is why I have postponed watching it. Glad I found your blog and will follow your posts!


  3. My favourite Judi Dench performance was in ‘Notes On A Scandal’. If you have never seen it, I can recommend it as being worth a watch. I will look out for ‘Philomena’, but might wait until it appears on Film 4.
    Best wishes, Pete.


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