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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 171 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 1, 2013
    9
    This is one of the most sobering, funny and adult movies we've seen in many a season. As parents of a young child ourselves, my wife and IThis is one of the most sobering, funny and adult movies we've seen in many a season. As parents of a young child ourselves, my wife and I (both writers) were moved by the story of the out of work London political journalist who becomes intrigued by the story of an aging Irish mother looking for her long-lost child...given up for adoption? sold to the highest bidder? It's all based on a true story, which makes the conclusion that much more heart-rending. The story reminded me of a parallel reality in which for decades, Israeli doctors and hospitals acquired babies and young children by the most nefarious means to provide to wealthy American Jewish families who couldn't produce children of their own. While this film is often dark, there is plenty of levity as well, and we both left the theatre thought-provoked, entertained and satisfied at an hour and a half well-spent. Indeed, when I got home I wanted to Tweet Steve Coogan, whom I had only known as a comedic actor, to congratulate him on his choice of role and his work as the film's producer (turns out while he has an account, Coogan is not yet active). Kudos are due to director Stephen Frears, who has long been in the small coterie of my favorite indie filmmakers, especially since his films "The Hit," "My Beautiful Laundrette" and "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid." 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. Jan 4, 2014
    8
    Philomena is excellently crafted in terms of the audience being able to bond with Philomena (Judi Dench) and all supporting cast. However, itPhilomena is excellently crafted in terms of the audience being able to bond with Philomena (Judi Dench) and all supporting cast. However, it seems a bit deliberate in the plot-holes it has, especially towards the Catholics and Republicans, making Philomena appear to be only one side of the coin. But said coin, is extremely shiny. Expand
  6. Sep 20, 2014
    7
    Philomena is a triumph in storytelling and laudable film warranting all nominations garnered this year.

    An elderly Irishwoman, Philomena,
    Philomena is a triumph in storytelling and laudable film warranting all nominations garnered this year.

    An elderly Irishwoman, Philomena, is taken on a journey on a search to find the lost son she was forced to give up for adoption as a teen by a journalist on the decline in search of a story. The injustice of lost years, guilt, sin, and manipulation angers viewers as they follow Philomena and Martin along the journey.

    Judi Dench proves again she is worthy of the Academy Award for best actress. She is truly deserving of a win though I do not believe she will be victorious over the more blaring and conspicuous performances from the other actresses nominated this year. She is sweet as the titled Philomena with a constant undercurrent of sadness with a nuanced portrayal of a slight nature arguably caused by the emotional turmoil of experiencing her son being purloined as a teen.

    I am equally glad they recognized and nominated Alexandre Desplat for his original score for the film. It is understated and complementary; adding to the tone of the scenes instead of doing what most music does in films – forcing emotion that isn’t created organically.

    All in all, it is a compelling and attention keeping story with a clear direction and purpose. Philomena is a triumph in storytelling and laudable film warranting all nominations garnered this year.
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  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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