At last, the final best picture nominee is in the books. Not gonna lie, I had ZERO desire to see this movie. There’s always that one nominee that sneaks in their that people think, “How the hell did this get nominated?” Last year it was Amour (2012), the year before that it was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011). This year, for me, it was Philomena (2013).
The movie tells the TRUE story about a journalist named Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan, who is interviewing and helping a woman by the name of Philomena (Hey that’s the title of the movie!), played by Dame Judi Dench, find her son that was taken from her fifty years ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a covent. The film was directed by Stephen Frears, an English director known for directing The Queen (2006).
You know, I gotta say, for having no desire to see this movie, it certainly had me interested throughout. I mean I cannot relate to the story at all. I’ve never had to live in a covent, or had a child taken away from me, or been pregnant for that matter. Yet the characters in this VERY character driven story had me intrigued throughout. I can’t explain it for the life of me but there was some sort of appeal to it for me.
It’s not the longest of movies, only running in at ninety-eight minutes; and for good reason. You can’t really do a lot with a story like this. There aren’t a lot of twists and turns; but there’s hardly any need for them, as well. I will say there is one, “Oh my God,” moment about halfway through the movie, and you think they could end the film right there, but it keeps going and I was totally alright with it. The characters and performances from Coogan and Dench really are the driving point in this film. Like I said earlier, though, I could not relate to the characters much in the movie. Personally, I like to look for a connection between myself and characters so that it helps me feel what they feel and I can relate with them.
The only thing I’ve seen Coogan in other than this was Tropic Thunder (2008) but that was a comedy and he wasn’t even a main character. Having seen him in this, I will say he is an exceptional actor and was great support for Dench, who really stole the show in the movie. Judi Dench, in my opinion, is England’s answer to Tom Hanks. Everyone loves her and she performs out of her shoes in every role she’s given. You see it in any one of the James Bond films she’s in, and you even see it in dramas like Chocolat (2000) or Pride and Prejudice (2005). It was great to see her get a nomination this year in the Oscars but, unfortunately, I don’t see her winning.
Philomena is certainly not, by any means, a jaw-dropping film that makes you question society or has you thinking after you walk out of the theater. It’s just a lovely story about a woman searching for her son. It’s character driven and the cast helps resonate that.
Overall rating: 6/10
Good enough story to keep me invested. Another job well done from Judi Dench, as well as Steve Coogan. I couldn’t relate to the characters; but that doesn’t make it a terrible movie, just not a great one. Definitely exceeded my expectations, nonetheless. If you like Judi Dench, England, or stories about mothers and their long lost sons, I recommend it. Also Michelle Fairley, who played Catelyn Stark on Game of Thrones (Probably my favorite drama on TV currently) is in it.
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