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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sensitive and provocative portrayal of a real life story
I feel I have to respond to Jude's profoundly offensive review of Philomena. Having read Martin Sixsmith's book and watched the film upon which it is based, I am frankly appalled that anybody should dismiss the film as a 'pile of pathetic anti-Catholic propaganda'. If the reviewer could bear to accept that the story is based on fact s/he would surely acknowledge, as many...
Published 9 months ago by Village person

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking.
Written and directed by awards winner Stephen Frears, "Philomena" stars the outstanding Judy Dench and Steve Coogan as strangers who become unlikely friends (despite of Coogan's character stiff upper lip) in the tale of a true story of one woman's search for a son she lost "to the system". Falling pregnant as a teenager in a catholic Ireland of early fifties of the last...
Published 7 months ago by Lola


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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sensitive and provocative portrayal of a real life story, 17 Feb 2014
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
I feel I have to respond to Jude's profoundly offensive review of Philomena. Having read Martin Sixsmith's book and watched the film upon which it is based, I am frankly appalled that anybody should dismiss the film as a 'pile of pathetic anti-Catholic propaganda'. If the reviewer could bear to accept that the story is based on fact s/he would surely acknowledge, as many Catholics do, that the church has a case to answer, not least for its systemic cruelty to young women in its care and its wilful denial of information to those to whom it could have brought such comfort. The film reveals a simple but thwarted journey of discovery, albeit one that does raise issues regarding the past conduct on the part of the Catholic Church. Personally, I thought the performances of Coogan and Dench to be world class: but that, perhaps, is a matter of taste. However I am at a loss to understand the relevance of the utterly gratuitous reference to children being incinerated, and I am baffled by the abusive concluding reference to Philomena herself: …'full of hate'. The real life Philomena, as portrayed in the film and in real life, is a gentle and compassionate soul: unlike, by all accounts, the callous bigot calling her/himself Jude.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up there with the best of them., 3 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Philomena [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
If you think Alan Partridge, sorry Steve Coogan is a bit of a twonk and don't like his acting then imagine you have never seen him before, buy the film because you know Judi Dench is the best actress in the UK and you will smile from ear to ear witnessing great chemistry between the two. The true story is one that had to be told and if it doesn't bring a tear to you eye you are probably not human. A classic. Also see "About Time".
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95 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-affirming, 7 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
If I were C.E.O. of Kleenex or any other paper hankie manufacturer, I would get my name down as a sponsor of this film! The fact that the poignancy of the story is lightened by moments of laughter somehow makes it all the more real, but then it is a true story.
I have always admired Judi Dench (as has everyone else) and now I have a new-found respect for Steve Coogan who is not only a superb actor but who also collaborated on the moving, subtle, tragic, comic, life-affirming script.
(A special warning to mothers everywhere......do not wear mascara to see this one! )
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66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, emotional and poignant piece of film making., 13 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. P. Datta "Pritthijit" (Stockton on Tees, Teesside) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
Philomena is inspired by a true story. It is about a disgraced government adviser Martin Sixsmith. He lost his job due to a serious matter. He becomes a journalist again, as he previously worked for the BBC. Immediately, he gets involved in a story depsite inital reluctance. It concerns Philomena an Irish lady, who kept a dark secret for 50 years. Philomena was abandoned in a convent as a teenager, as father disowned hearing the news of pregnancy. The conditions the girls endured were absolutely appalling and cruel. She gave birth to a child named Anthony and was cruelly forced to give up son for adoption rights. She could only spend one hour a day with her son. The film embarks on a emotional journey to locate the missing son. Will the journey end in happiness? The real truth behind son disappearance paints a hollowing and disturbing picture of the convent. The film raises serious questions. Will the truth be exposed? Will the convent be made accountable for their cruel acts?

The subject matter raised in the film is serious. There is humour seamlessly blended in the film. Philomena is a feisty character with many wisecracks throughout the film. The audience laughed out. Martin Sixsmith character is well developed. The bonding between the two leading characters is not always great, as there is conflicts on particular matters, but they do get on. The characters are believable and easily connectable, as they feel so real. Academy winner Judi Dench shows why she is an excellent actress. She plays the part of Philomena superbly and flawlessly. Steve Coogan, a comedian has adapted well to serious roles and expanding his repertoire of acting.

Phiomoena is a beautiful, emotional and poignant piece of film making. The British film industry continues to produce quality films. Philomena joins the list. The depth in storyline and characters makes stand out really well. I throughly enjoyed the film.
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87 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What price love?, 20 Oct 2013
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Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
Depressed by the collapse of his high-flying career as a Labour spin doctor, Martin Sixsmith tries to distract himself with a "human interest story". Philomena Lee wishes to make contact with the son taken from her nearly fifty years ago by Irish nuns, after they had allowed her to bond with him while slaving in the now notorious convent laundries to pay for their "charity" in giving shelter to an unmarried teenage mother.

Excellent as regards quality of script, acting and direction, this film is by turns unbearably sad and hilarious. Admittedly there are some stereotypes: the bigoted nun who feels that since she has kept her vow of chastity, anyone who has succumbed to sex outside marriage must pay the price for ever, or the hard-bitten editor who wants a good story at any price. There has probably been a good deal of dramatic licence in transferring the real characters of Martin Sixsmith and Philomena to the screen, but played by Steve Coogan and Judi Dench their personalities are strongly developed and complex. Coogan plays a man angered by injustice and determined to root it out, won over by the warm, frank and at times surprisingly broad-minded and perceptive Philomena, who does not hold back from commenting on his frequent cynicism, arrogance and dismissive attitude to those he regards as less intelligent. Dench portrays a still deeply religious yet fun-loving woman, whose simplicity and fondness for trashy TV series and happy-ever-after romantic fiction mask shrewd insight and tolerance. She realises the need to forgive others for one's own sake, but is not above passing up the chance to expose wrongdoing. Greater love has no woman than to think her child might have achieved a better life without her, after worrying for decades that he might be suffering somewhere, perhaps a hopeless tramp. What counts as a "good outcome" when the essential tragedy of separation for decades has been suffered?

Philomena seems too old to have a son born in 1952 when she must still have been in her teens, but this is a minor point, the price to be paid for casting Judi Dench in the role.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking., 27 April 2014
By 
Lola (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
Written and directed by awards winner Stephen Frears, "Philomena" stars the outstanding Judy Dench and Steve Coogan as strangers who become unlikely friends (despite of Coogan's character stiff upper lip) in the tale of a true story of one woman's search for a son she lost "to the system". Falling pregnant as a teenager in a catholic Ireland of early fifties of the last century, Philomena Lee was sent to the church institution run by nuns for the "fallen women". Philomena gives birth in terrible pain and is told to suffer through it, and when her beloved son is only a few years old, he is given away for adoption in America.

Philomena spends the next few decades silently grieving for her loss, she tries to search for her first child and is turned down by the establishment due to the confidentiality (and, of course, the convenient "fire" is claimed to destroy the records). And then she meets Martin Sixpence, who is in need of human interest story and off they go to on the trip to America, searching for Philomena's son and discovering themselves and each other (no, there is no love story!).

I am not sure why "Philomena" was marketed as a comedy, and an inspiring comedy at that. I thought the film was heartbreaking and disheartening. There is so much cruelty and unfairness portrayed in the film that even the amazing Judy Dench is not succeeding in adding a spoon of sugar to the barrel of injustice. Yes, despite the sad subject, Coogan and Dench produce abundance of smiles as the unlikely team, but I found it hard to watch the film and in the end, all the forgiving did not make me feel better.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion!, 17 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
What an excellent film this is? It's compassionate and witty but also ultimately shocking. I would guess that most who watched this had previously seen the `Magdalene Sisters, `which was also a great watch.
The 'Magdalene institutions' were a very big thing, both here, in America and also in Europe - from the 1750's to almost the present day . In the UK some 30,000 young women were sent to the `laundries' for hard labour to repent for their so called sins or that their parents simply disowned or couldn't afford them. Once there they were imprisoned in the system, some were abused - mentally, physically and also sexually.
The Irish Government and Catholic Church issued a grovelling apology and acceptance of their crimes this year - 2013, after years of being pressed for the truth. It's very hard to comprehend but the last `Irish laundry' closed as recently as 1996.
History aside, this is a great little film. Possibly Cogan at his best and Judy Dench once again elicits all of her vast array of acting skills in portraying this particularly devout character.
A must watch in my opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I read the book, then watched this... disappointing., 22 April 2014
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
I'm always ready to accept that books and films of the same are often very different, and consequently watch/read with an open mind. Unfortunately this is a very disappointing result, not because it takes a different direction to the book, but because it felt too 'Hollywood'... some scenes were too contrived and far from the natural storytelling that it should have been; I cringed many times and felt it didn't do the story justice. The book is interesting, but is predominantly about the Son's life, with snippets about Philomena... I cried several times, connecting in a way that I didn't get from the film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasticly Moving Film- One of the best I have seen, thoroughly recommended., 25 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
This is a true story about "Philomena" and her long lost illigitimate baby & her quest to trace him. It is possibly the most moving film we have ever watched, both Judi Dench & Steve Coogan are wonderful. I can only say this is a must of a film to watch. The secret & devious stories of how the Nun's deny the covering up of illegitimate births is quite staggering. I cannot recommend this film highly enough, but be prepared to be deeply moved if you are of a caring nature, I as a man became very emotional watching it at certain stages of the story, that I won't divulge as it may spoil it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 'human interest' film, 18 Oct 2014
This review is from: Philomena (DVD)
In reference to one of the lines in the film, I suppose you would call this a 'human interest' film. It's certainly a great example of a kind of 'story behind the story'.
I think the only reason I haven't given it five stars is that I would have liked to have learnt a bit more about the scandal involving the Catholic church and the selling of babies abroad. It's quite a short film at around 90 minutes. Shorter than I would have expected a film about this subject matter to be. I might be being a bit harsh with that one criticism though because I suppose as a human interest story should, it involves you emotionally with the characters and makes you want to know more about what went on, and you can always do that after watching.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan are both terrific in the roles. Judi Dench gives such great performances so often that it's kind of difficult not to take it for granted but it's clear that she is excelling here. It's also great to see Steve Coogan showing his acting chops in such a successful film. It must be difficult for him to break away from the comedy roles that people know and love him for but I was totally sold on his portrayal of Martin Sixsmith. On the DVD there is an extra on the making of the film and you can tell that he really cared about the story and doing it justice and his performance has a lot of heart.
I guess in film (especially one of this length) you don't have time to show all the nuances of a character so certain traits like Sixsmith's cynicism and Philomena's simple nature are exaggerated for effect, but the performances still ring true.
Sixsmith makes you chuckle in a kind of knowing way but when he's challenged by Philomena on his outlook, I felt challenged too, and I smiled warmly at her desire to see the best in people, and felt aggrieved at her loss.
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Philomena [DVD]
Philomena [DVD] by Stephen Frears (DVD - 2014)
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