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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 161 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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Compelling, poignant and gently funny.
  7. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Nov 21, 2013
    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 45
  2. Negative: 0 out of 45
  1. Mar 5, 2014
    Easily one of the best. "Philomena" is a wave of emotions directly into the viewer's heart, having one of the best performances I have ever seen and one of the most effecting, touching stories ever made. Although I would like if more of Philomena's life was discussed, although this aspect does not harm any of the aspects of the film. Wonderful cinematography, lovable actors and touching characters. Philomena is slightly one of the greatest of all time. Expand
  2. Nov 22, 2013
    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.
  3. Dec 8, 2013
    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. Dec 19, 2013
    “Philomena” is the fillm directed by Stephen Frears based on the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” written by Martin Sixsmith, Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan. Mr. Coogan also stars in the film with Dame Judi Dench. This is a movie I did not see when it first came into distribution since I had the misguided impression that it would be depressing and without spirit. Quite the contrary, this is a detective story, a story of faith and a story of perseverance as a mother spends most of her life trying to find the child taken from her and her forced servitude at the “mercy” of the nuns in the convent in which her child was born. Enough cannot be said about the performances of Mr. Coogan and of Ms. Dench as they dominate and capture this film and its true story. I give this film a 9 rating and suggest that it not be missed or the reader will risk missing a truly wonderful film. Expand
  5. Nov 28, 2013
    Judi 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
    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 you cry. This is one of the year's best. Expand
  7. Lyn
    Jan 19, 2014
    Judi Dench is excellent as always. Can't recall a recent film of hers in which she played a more huggable character (and yet, with a little edge). My main problem with the film was that it felt very much like a Lifetime movie ... you know, with one of the Golden Girls playing the older Irish lady and some sitcom guy playing the jaded ex-journalist. I understand that the anti-Catholic vitriol was very much amped up for the film as well, which bothers me (although I'm not Catholic). A good one to rent later and enjoy Dench's performance. Expand

See all 45 User Reviews


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