Winter 2014 Features series
Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 4:00pm
Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 7:00pm
Directed by Stephen Frears
Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
Based on the book by Martin Sixsmith
Starring Sophie Kennedy Clark, Steve Coogan, and Judi Dench
Rated PG ·
France / USA / UK
Director Stephen Frears (The Queen) teams with Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Steve Coogan (The Trip) for this powerful true story of an unmarried Irish Catholic woman who, decades after being forced by her community to give up her newborn son, embarks on a search to find him with the aid of a BBC reporter.
In 1950s Ireland, Catholic authorities shamed thousands of “fallen” women into giving their children up for adoption. Philomena Lee (Dench) was one of these women. After 50 years of fruitless searching for her son’s whereabouts, she solicits the help of recently unemployed—and unapologetically cynical—journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan). Determined to be positive despite the obstacles that may lie ahead, the talkative Philomena shares stories from her past, savouring every moment on her journey to meet her child. While her quirks may test Sixsmith’s patience, he will ultimately prove to be her biggest supporter.
Showing us her softer side, Dench gives a tour-de-force performance as Philomena, one that is perfectly complemented by Coogan. True masters of their craft, the stars share a natural chemistry onscreen, and their wry humour leavens the film’s more sombre moments. Frears beautifully balances these competing tones, crafting a film that illustrates the complexity of the human character. While revealing some of the darkest deeds the Catholic Church is capable of, Philomena also reminds us of one of its greatest virtues: forgiveness.
“Philomena is a real delight. Funny, moving, beautifully performed and directed with restraint and a wonderfully delicate touch.” (Mark Adams, Screen International)
“Getting full comic effect from its class-comedy abrasions, Philomena rises to poignancy and profundity as Dench reveals her control of a character stained by the loss of her child and troubled by her suspicion. [She] gives a performance of grace, nuance and cinematic heroism.” (Mary Corliss, Time)
“This is a heartbreaking story – how could it not be? But Frears’ film breaks your heart and then repairs it.” (Robbie Collin, The Telegraph)