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Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics What's this?

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7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 170 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.
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: 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Xan Brooks
    Sep 16, 2013
    80
    Its main focus is the sparky, shifting relationship between its two protagonists and its trump card the startling chemistry between its two main stars.
  5. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 19, 2013
    80
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 21, 2013
    75
    Compelling, poignant and gently funny.
  7. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Nov 21, 2013
    25
    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.

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 46
  2. Negative: 1 out of 46
  1. Apr 13, 2014
    10
    A film like Philomena comes along all too infrequently. That wonderful hybrid of quality drama, subtle, well-balanced acting and a sprinklingA film like Philomena comes along all too infrequently. That wonderful hybrid of quality drama, subtle, well-balanced acting and a sprinkling of welcome humor. Not to mention it all hung together around a meaningful and interesting subject matter.
    Based on the true story of Philomena Lee, an elderly Irish woman who became pregnant as a teenager and had her child taken away from her by the Catholic Church and sold for adoption it truly is not just a fine piece of work from a idiosyncratic director but an example to all about how to make dramatic cinema. Its also a a high watermark in terms of its tear jerkiness. very seldom do you see a sentimental film full of appropriate humor and a lack of tacked on manipulated mawkishness. Take note War Horse, Les Mis, The Impossible and company.
    I have never been a huge fan of Dench but here she gives the performance of a lifetime(wrinkles have never looked so engaging) backed up wonderfully by Coogan who is mildly eccentric and tempered but deeply moved all at the same time. My only concern would be the glaring convenience that pops up half way through but Frears keeps things so tightly wound that you feel completely tolerant of it straight away.
    The movie has received some rare bashings by some critics who argue its intentions regarding its take on the Catholic religion. I say what goes around comes around and this deserves to be seen by everyone with a keen interest in, well, human interest stories.
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  2. 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 atrocityWhilst '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.
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  3. Dec 8, 2013
    9
    As for the supporting cast members in Philomena, they’re very much side dressing to Coogan and Dench’s performances as the main course.As for the supporting cast members in Philomena, they’re very much side dressing to Coogan and Dench’s performances as the main course. Nevertheless, people like Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones), Barbara Jefford (The Ninth Gate) and Peter Hermann (Our Idiot Brother) still manage to get a respectable amount of emotional mileage out of their few scenes. Ultimately, though, Dench and Coogan are the beating heart of Frears’ cinematic social/political commentary, as their work together is enough to accommodate many of the flaws in storytelling making Philomena a heart-churning and enjoyable moviegoing experience, as a whole. Expand
  4. Jan 7, 2014
    9
    Judy Dench and Steve Coogan play off each other well in this under the radar film. The catholic church once again does not look good in aJudy Dench and Steve Coogan play off each other well in this under the radar film. The catholic church once again does not look good in a film, although the atrocities took place 60 years ago in 1950s Ireland. Apparently nuns would take young parent-less women into their convent who had babies out of wedlock and eventually sell their babies to wealthy Americans (true story believe it or not). The story is about one mother who decided to search for her son that was taken away from her 50 years earlier. She accepts the help of an author who hears about the story from the woman's daughter. They have an adventure together, going to America to find the son. There is a surprising amount of humor in addition to the heartbreak. Very well acted and written and easily one of the best films of the year. Expand
  5. Nov 28, 2013
    8
    Judi Dench plays the slightly spunky and entirely endearing title character: a women who searches for the son she lost to adoption when sheJudi Dench plays the slightly spunky and entirely endearing title character: a women who searches for the son she lost to adoption when she was a teen. Steve Coogan tamps down his comic side, as the career-challenged journalist who helps her on her quest. It sounds like one of those dramas that could deteriorate into sentimentality, but under the assured direction of Stephen Frears it maintains integrity and heart. This true tale has enough turns to keep it interesting and Dench creates a character whose quiet demeanor reveals an appealing and confident woman. The narrative takes a little time to develop momentum, but by the end you'll be captivated by this sweet character and her engaging story. Expand
  6. Jan 17, 2014
    8
    This movie is fantastic, Judi Dench, and Steve Coogan are great, this movie has a perfect combination of humor, and drama, and it can make youThis movie is fantastic, Judi Dench, and Steve Coogan are great, this movie has a perfect combination of humor, and drama, and it can make you cry. This is one of the year's best. Expand
  7. Dec 7, 2014
    2
    Could have been a cute movie if not for the out of context political jabs. I watch movies for entertainment. If want political statements ICould have been a cute movie if not for the out of context political jabs. I watch movies for entertainment. If want political statements I can always watch cable news. Sorry can't recommend this film for this reason. Very annoying! Expand

See all 46 User Reviews

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