Customer Review

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Love, 8 Nov 2013
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
This is a truly beautiful film. All too often really tragic stories transfer to the screen as just that, making for difficult viewing. But, due to the insightful, clever and empathetic writing skills of Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, what you get is the warmth, humanity and, above all, humour from this real-life, tangible and moving tale.

Whilst not being a particular Steve Coogan 'fan' (mainly because I mostly only think of him in his Alan Partridge persona), he shines here in a more likable, serious and sensitive role. It goes without saying that Judi Dench is superb in anything she cares to take on, but here she takes 'gentle' to the extreme - and that includes her lovely, soft, almost-not-there Irish lilt. (Bearing in mind that the real Philomena Lee has spent 50 years of her life in England, I would imagine that the accent is pretty accurate.)

Also, as it turns out, by putting these two amazing actors together, you get the kind of rapport only rivalled by the likes of Ant and Dec or Morecambe and Wise - only funnier at times, in a more subtle and realistic way! Although journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) and grandmother Philomena Lee (Dench) look from the outset as likely to have an awkward, stilted partnering and friendship, they bounce off each other superbly and clearly end up with a great deal of respect and fondness for each other.

But, what I liked more than anything else, was the fact that Philomena was not portrayed as a victim, or even as being particularly vulnerable; merely as a mother wanting to trace her son and never giving up on that hope of finding him in her almost-lifetime pursuit.

I came away from seeing this film with less anger than I had anticipated I would. Apart from the not surprising need for some tissues to wipe the residue from my eyes, I felt more humble and inspired than anything else. I couldn't help thinking that somehow, despite Philomena's great sadness and personal loss at not having had her own son in her life, her final scenes showed what real faith and humility is about. I ended up feeling much more sorry for the nuns than Philomena herself: After all, God has to judge Catholic nuns too - not just young mothers who have apparently 'sinned'. And, as far as I'm concerned, I think I know whose side He'll be on when the time comes ... It was actually very satisfying to see the smug look on an elderly nun's face wiped so clean.

So, if you like 'real', gentle and moving, this film is a must-see. Whether you catch it now at the cinema, or later on DVD, don't make excuses and end up missing it!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Nov 2013 15:56:37 GMT
Zoonie says:
What you write about Judi Dench's accent is exactly what we said to each other in the car home from the cinema.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 16:32:53 GMT
Sevvysgirl says:
Thank you for commenting on my review - it's always nice to know that they're being read! I wanted to make it clear that I thought Dame Judi's accent good as I've read a few reviews where it's been criticised. Still, as the saying goes, you can't please all of the people ... :-)
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