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Drama . Biography

A woman searches for her adult son, who was taken away from her decades ago when she was forced to live in a convent.

Actors: Judi Dench , Steve Coogan , Sophie Kennedy Clark , Mare Winningham , Barbara Jefford , Ruth McCabe , Peter Hermann , Sean Mahon , Anna Maxwell Martin , Michelle Fairley
Directors: Stephen Frears
Country: UK , USA , FRANCE
Release: 2013-11-27
More Info:
  • Rex Reed

    It’s profoundly moving and thoroughly mind provoking, but despite the poignant subject matter, I promise you will not leave Philomena depressed. I’ve seen it twice and felt exhilarated, informed, enriched, absorbed and optimistic both times.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • Damon Wise

    A terrific, sophisticated comedy that tackles serious issues with a lightness of touch and a spirit of steel, Philomena is the British film to beat come BAFTA time.

    Empire Full Review
  • Marc Mohan

    Effective, fact-based melodrama that packs an unexpected emotional wallop.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Chris Nashawaty

    Dench and Coogan's chemistry is undeniably great. In the end, he manages to give her the answers she seeks and she manages to give him a heart.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Deborah Young

    Stephen Frears is in full possession of his filmmaking talent in Philomena, one of his most pulled-together dramas in years.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Stephen Holden

    Even through improbable moments and abrupt changes of pace and tone, Ms. Dench and Mr. Coogan hold the movie together.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Mary Corliss

    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.

    Time Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    The Catholic Church does not come off well in Philomena, but then, what else is new? And the film isn't so much an indictment of institutional unkindness as it is a story of resilience, resolution - and human kindness.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    Philomena is a tearjerker of rare honesty and craft.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    At its core, this clever, wrenching, profound story underscores the tenacity of faith in the face of unfathomable cruelty. Evil may be good, story-wise. But virtue, at its most tested and tempered, is even better.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Bill Zwecker

    Director Steven Frears deserves special mention. A lesser filmmaker could so easily have turned this project into mushy, sentimental junk. The tear-jerking moments here are heartfelt and real. It’s the kind of filmmaking we see too little of today.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Susan Wloszczyna

    Most of its pleasures come from the way it confounds expectations. Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    It's Dench, showing how faith and hellraising can reside in the same woman, who makes Philomena moving and memorable.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    Most credit goes to Coogan for the success of this odd coupling.

    McClatchy-Tribune News Service Full Review
  • Steve Persall

    Philomena is simply one of those small, true stories that astonish in print and inspire good movies.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • Oliver Lyttelton

    It's certainly a crowd-pleaser...and something close to a triumph, if not an unqualified one.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    Philomena could have been a sappy movie, but it’s not. Instead, with such assured performances, it’s proof that sometimes a laugh makes swallowing a big dose of outrage a little easier.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    The movie is overcalculating and occasionally coarse, but it has a gentle spirit. We should count its existence as a blessing.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Bob Mondello

    Director Stephen Frears, working from a book by the real Martin Sixsmith, isn't about to let the Irish church off the hook for a monstrous (and well-documented) chapter in its history. In flashbacks, he pictures the young Philomena as a sort of proto-Katniss, doing battle with a tyranny of nuns.

    NPR Full Review
  • Joshua Rothkopf

    A trip to America bears its share of exasperated hotel-room humor, but watch both actors lean into characters seeking redemption; their clash is invigorating, with a mature payoff that has two minds meeting and getting further along. It’s a tonic to all the Oscar-season showboating: Call it Best Duo.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Inkoo Kang

    The grande dame's performance, alternately goofy and grave, is an absolute tour de force.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Philip Kemp

    Odd-couple chemistry from Dench and Coogan, a smart script and honed direction make this real-life story highly compelling. Blending comedy and tragedy, it secretes a potent sting.

    Total Film Full Review
  • Dave Calhoun

    It's a terrifically moving film that has a fitting earthbound feel to it.

    Time Out London Full Review
  • Robbie Collin

    This is a heartbreaking story – how could it not be? But Frears’ film breaks your heart and then repairs it.

    The Telegraph Full Review
  • Xan Brooks

    Its main focus is the sparky, shifting relationship between its two protagonists and its trump card the startling chemistry between its two main stars.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • William Goss

    Philomena honors its namesake by valuing potent understatement over potential hysterics. Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    It's simple and well-told, although nothing about it is breathtakingly original.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Philomena is a wiser movie than it seems, with much to say about justice and forgiveness and the healing of wounds over time. Actually, it says next to nothing about any of those things, just implies its messages with a light hand.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    At times the filmmakers seem to be taking potshots at Philomena for her placidity; other times Martin is made to seem crass and unfeeling – insufficiently spiritual. Life lessons are imparted, although the players never budge very much from their initial attitudes.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    Compelling, poignant and gently funny.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

    Still, that doesn’t detract too much from what Philomena manages to accomplish: a sober consideration of how ideals relate to institutions — whether they’re religions or political parties — anchored by two well-rounded, funny lead performances.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    Philomena turns out to be a subtly told tale of tragedy and redemption, with much of the sentimental payoff you’re expecting but several intriguing plot twists along the way. Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    Dench is not the only reason to see this unapologetic crowd-pleaser, but she is the best one.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Keith Phipps

    What makes it effective isn’t the facts of the case, so much as the way Philomena lets viewers spend time with its characters and get to know exactly who’s getting hurt.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • Justin Chang

    It’s an undeniable whopper of a yarn and, coming after a string of middling efforts from Frears, easily the director’s most compulsively watchable picture since “The Queen."

    Variety Full Review
  • Marjorie Baumgarten

    For the viewer, however, solving this mystery is not nearly as engrossing as watching the actors’ pas de deux.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Elizabeth Weitzman

    The movie wouldn’t stand for much of anything without such an effective team to represent the equivocating.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    Mr. Coogan, lavishly talented as a comic, and a comic actor, is fairly monotonous in the mostly serious role he wrote for himself. That leaves Ms. Dench to carry the picture, which she does, up to a point, with her usual delicacy and grace.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Jesse Cataldo

    A human-interest story that claims spite for human-interest stories, the film has some pretty divisive issues at its core that leave it torn between contrasting approaches.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    With Philomena, British producer-writer-star Steve Coogan and director Stephen Frears hit double blackjack, finding a true-life tale that would enable them to simultaneously attack Catholics and Republicans. There’s no other purpose to the movie, so if 90 minutes of organized hate brings you joy, go and buy your ticket now.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Anthony Lane

    What could be a plain tale -- and is in danger of becoming a sappy one -- grows surprisingly inward and dense. [25 Nov. 2013, p.135]

    The New Yorker Full Review
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