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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-affirming
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...
Published 5 months ago by Zoonie

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Yawn, boring film
I was really looking forward to seeing this film but was very disappointed in it, I found it quite slow and boring
Published 16 hours ago by G. Richardson


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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-affirming, 7 Nov 2013
By 
Zoonie (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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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76 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What price love?, 20 Oct 2013
By 
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many heart-warming and smiling moments, but emphatically not a "comedy" in the normal modern sense of the word., 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
Having missed this wonderful film in the cinema, and read the book in the meantime (please see my separate review of the Kindle edition), I have now been able to enjoy it on DVD. I can only echo the very high praise it has rightly received. The film, together with the DVD special feature "The Journey of Philomena", tells much more of Philomena's own story than the book, which concentrates more on her lost son. In this respect the book and the film complement each other very well as two sides of the same coin. I would just add a minor criticism of some possibly misleading comments on the DVD packaging which variously describe it as "funny", a "comedy", and even "hilarious". It is true that there are some great and human "one liners" in it which raise a ready smile, but the film as a whole is far from being a comedy in the normal sense (though perhaps just maybe in the Shakespearean meaning of the word, as having at least a semi-happy ending). On the whole, though, although told with a light touch this is a very serious and thought-provoking story which should not be trivialised. One final point: I have seen a few reservations expressed about Steve Coogan's part in the film. I can only say that I think he is excellent.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, emotional and poignant piece of film making., 13 Nov 2013
By 
P. DATTA "Pritthijit" (Stockton on Tees, Teesside) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film, 27 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
So much nicer to enjoy a film in the comfort of your own home rather than at the cinema where you can have pop corn and cold drinks being consumed almost in your ear by the person sitting next to you and comments from the public at vital times in the storyline.Good value for money
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
I agree with the majority of the reviews here, fantastic film , tough subject. The bad reviews are mainly about the outing of many of the Irish Catholic nuns - not all, sometimes the truth hurts but does have to be heard! I think both Judi Dench and Steve Coogan did a grand job! Make sure you have tissues ready.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary film, 25 Mar 2014
By 
Ellen Goudsmit "Ellen" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
I watched this film this morning and I watched it again this afternoon. I've never done that in my life. It's exciting, it's well acted, it's a complete package for people who like a detective story with wit. In short, one of the best films I've ever seen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The film was well worth the watch, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
This film arrived yesterday and I watched it yesterday with my family, we all thoroughly enjoyed it and I would recommend to friends.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lost son, 2 Nov 2013
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
I happily refer plot-seekers to other reviews, including that by Amazon, since I will simply give my personal response to this superb film from the combined talents of director Stephen Frears, and leading actors Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote.
Any film that can surprise a genuine guffaw out of me within the first couple of minutes is not to be sneered at. (It concerned the word `outstanding`.)
Coogan, wearing the two hats of actor and writer, hits all the right notes as respected journalist Martin Sixsmith, even managing to look uncannily like him. Coogan sensibly and effectively underplays his role, his many laughs coming from his experienced ability to speak volumes with a look or a throwaway remark. His character`s initial impatience is deftly expressed, as are his growing fondness for his sparky charge on their extended `road-trip`, and his cathartic anger near the end (of both the film and their search) when he challenges an elderly nun, as smug as she is pious.
Dench gives, as ever, a performance perfectly pitched and emotionally true. What a remarkable actress she is, never `playing to the gallery`, and able to portray with absolute credibility almost anyone, while never stinting on their less attractive traits. Some will, I`m sure, go to see this film expecting `that nice Dame Judi` in a `feelgood film` (ugh!) when what they will get is a quietly challenging virtual two-hander of mounting drama and sometimes gut-wrenching emotional heft, of a sweetly-tough old Irish woman searching, on her own terms, for the long-lost son she was forced to `give away` by the supposedly well-meaning sisters of an institution which I am delighted to say has now - and not before time - been outlawed in Ireland.
There are well-modulated performances by Anna Maxwell Martin, Michelle Fairley, Mare Winningham, and especially Sophie Kennedy Clark as the young Philomena, in scenes that tear at the heart as well as the rising rage of at least one viewer.
(The tale of the infamous `Magdalene Laundries` was told in the excellent 2002 film called The Magdalene Sisters.)
There are one or two weaker moments in the film where things get perilously close to a fairytale neatness, as if wanting to wrap the story up in a filmic gloss, but these are few and far between.
I`d say that, apart from the mostly riveting story it tells, the chief reasons for seeing this above-average British film are its two stars, whose rapport comes across loud and clear, and both of whom have rarely been better on screen.
Expect well-deserved Oscars...

Recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The message of this film is forgiveness..............., 21 Feb 2014
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
Firstly let me inform you that I am Irish and a Roman Catholic to set the record straight. Having seen the film I am absolutely appalled at the critism that one of the commenters namely Jude dished out. I know that everybody is entitled to their own opinion but to describe it as anti Catholic leaves alot to be desired. Remember that when this unfortunate event took place the Catholic Church was still in the stone age in Ireland but they also had a great influence in all aspects of people's lives including the politics. Some of the individuals in power at the time were just happy to wipe anything of a shameful nature under the carpet hoping it would never be questioned . If it did not take place in those convents we could not blame The Catholic Church, but it did. It happened to women who existed in reality and their babies. None of them had a say or a choice about their fate. The main message of the film is forgiveness. A woman's quest to discover the whereabouts of her son who was taken from her. She could have been bitter but she was not. Judi Dench is a class act in her role as Philomena and Steve Coogan deserves much praise as an actor and co writer of the well constructed screenplay. This film deserves its nomination as one of the best films of the year.
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Philomena [DVD]
Philomena [DVD] by Stephen Frears (DVD - 2014)
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