Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 19, 2013
    100
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Oct 28, 2013
    100
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Nov 25, 2013
    91
    Effective, fact-based melodrama that packs an unexpected emotional wallop.
  4. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Nov 20, 2013
    91
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Nov 21, 2013
    90
    Stephen Frears is in full possession of his filmmaking talent in Philomena, one of his most pulled-together dramas in years.
  6. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Nov 21, 2013
    90
    Even through improbable moments and abrupt changes of pace and tone, Ms. Dench and Mr. Coogan hold the movie together.
  7. Reviewed by: Mary Corliss
    Sep 16, 2013
    90
    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.
  8. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 27, 2013
    88
    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.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 27, 2013
    88
    Philomena is a tearjerker of rare honesty and craft.
  10. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 27, 2013
    88
    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.
  11. Reviewed by: Bill Zwecker
    Nov 26, 2013
    88
    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.
  12. Reviewed by: Susan Wloszczyna
    Nov 22, 2013
    88
    Most of its pleasures come from the way it confounds expectations.
  13. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 21, 2013
    88
    It's Dench, showing how faith and hellraising can reside in the same woman, who makes Philomena moving and memorable.
  14. 88
    Most credit goes to Coogan for the success of this odd coupling.
  15. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 26, 2013
    83
    Philomena is simply one of those small, true stories that astonish in print and inspire good movies.
  16. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    Sep 16, 2013
    83
    It's certainly a crowd-pleaser...and something close to a triumph, if not an unqualified one.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 156 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. Nov 22, 2013
    10
    Whilst '12 Years a Slave' and 'The Butler' are banging the drum for the civil rights movement in America, another less talked about atrocity that took place in Ireland is broached in Philomena, namely the dreadful practise of catholic nuns selling the children of young unwed mothers. These 'fallen women' were forced into convents which were run like work houses in order for them 'to cleanse their sins'. Many were in their early teens and most never saw their children again after adoption. This film concerns the search by one such mother,Philomena, who along with a journalist sets out to find the son she hasn't seen in nearly 50 years.
    Judi Dench plays the title character and her performance is a class act. She gives an effortlessly briliiant and believable portrayal of this tortured, but hopeful woman. She is an actress to whom her art just seems to come naturally and she is again at the top of her game. Steve Coogan is also very good as the journalist and he can take another bow for co-authoring the richly textured screenplay. Whilst the writing tackles serious issues it still manages to tap into some wonderful humour in the midst of this desperately sad situation. The film, though, is certainly never mawkish, but it is at times genuinely affecting. In fact, the only thing that comes out bad here is the light shining on the Catholic Church.
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 22, 2014
    9
    Philonema is a wonderful story . but i am sad that her son died . it was kinda heartbreaking as well . but it is the most saddest movies i have ever seen . philonema is a hero and i hope she will save children .
    Grade A
    grade for philonema A+
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 8, 2014
    10
    This exceptional film is lifted from excellence to perfection by the note perfect work of Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. It is as much about forgiveness as it is about cruelty, but it is not sentimental. The real Philomena is apparently a woman who has humor and enthusiasm and refuses to feel sorry for herself. These qualities, perfectly caught by Dench, makes the movie buoyant. Full Review »