Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: Philomena

                                   'Philomena': A Light-Hearted Yet Somewhat Tragic Biopic
                I feel that whenever there is a film that comes out dealing with the Catholic church, it is usually about a priest in some kind of sexual abuse scandal. With Philomena, and this might sound strange, but it was refreshing to see a film dealing with Roman Catholics that doesn't depict that but showcases a different kind of harsh reality.
                   Philomena is about an Irish Catholic woman named Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) who gave birth to a son when she was a young girl that was taken away from her. A British journalist named Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), who was formerly a Roman Catholic and normally doesn't go for more humanistic stories, then aids Philomena on her quest to find her long lost son.

                   What I Liked About It:
                  First off, I liked how the film doesn't sugar coat the issues that it is showcasing. The ones that it does are the Roman Catholic church and the Republican party. You see, Philomena had lived in a convent run by Roman Catholic nuns who forced her son into adoption without letting her say goodbye to him. The film definitely doesn't say to the audience "Roman Catholic church, BAD" like what some religious groups believe. It just portrays a small group of Catholics who are more antagonistic than others. I worry that I might give a slight spoiler if I discuss the film's depiction of the Republican Party, so I'll just leave it that because I do think this film should be widely seen.

                  Another thing that I really liked was the performances from the cast. Judi Dench really shines as the title character of Philomena. Dench's performance is very nuanced as she is very endearing yet almost heart-wrenching and while I was glad Cate Blanchett won the best Actress Oscar this year, I would put Judi Dench as a close, and I mean, CLOSE second choice for the Oscar. Dench was just that great. Steve Coogan is also very good as the rather neurotic Martin Sixsmith and both he and Dench have outstanding chemistry in both the light-hearted funny scenes and even the more emotional and tender scenes as well. Coogan even did a great job writing the script as both he and Jeff Pope are able to not only weave in comedic moments but scenes that might make you weep which don't go too overboard.

                 What I Didn't Like About It:
                 Nothing off the top of my head.

               Overall, Philomena is a touching yet emotionally gut-wrenching biopic that I think should be widely seen. Whether you are a Catholic or not, you might still be moved by this story. It might have you going "Damn, people suck!" at the end, like 12 Years A Slave and Schindler's List, but it is a very well-made film.

Rating: 4.5/5

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