Back 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.