Saturday, November 30, 2013

Philomena Review - 4 Stars

I knew going in that “Philomena” was based on a book about an Irish woman’s search for the child she gave away fifty years earlier.  But the movie gave me a lot more.  Usually comic actor Steve Coogan plays it straight as a sophisticated out of work government spokesman/journalist who gets a tip about an old woman looking for her son.  He hears her story and pitches the idea to a publisher and gets a contract.  He’s in this for the money.  Soon he’s spending time with Philomena Lee, played in the movie by Judi Dench.  She shows over the course of this performance why she holds the title as one of the greatest actresses of our time.  She breathes life into this woman sent to a Catholic home as a pregnant teenager.    Now old older frumpy woman, the mismatched characters travel together in buddy comedy style.   She represents faith, he represents skepticism.  Together they discover the harshness of Ireland’s baby and mother homes where children were regularly given away to wealthy Americans in return for large donations.  Mother and writer discover the identity of the son and the outcome of his life and the truth of the situation that separated them.   Many in the audience sat through the credits as a way I think of taking in the extraordinary experience of watching “Philomena”–without doubt one of the year’s ten best movies.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Profound surprising story.  Is it entertaining?  Well told.  Is it worth the price of admission?  Every penny.