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Philomena (2013)

TOMATOMETER

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 171
Fresh: 158 | Rotten: 13

Based on a powerful true story and led by note-perfect performances from Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, Philomena offers a profoundly affecting drama for adult filmgoers of all ages.

95%
Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 2

Based on a powerful true story and led by note-perfect performances from Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, Philomena offers a profoundly affecting drama for adult filmgoers of all ages.

AUDIENCE SCORE

User Ratings: 49,405

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Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock - something her Irish-Catholic community didn't have the highest opinion of - and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn't allow for any sort of inquiry into the son's whereabouts. After starting a family … More

Rating: PG-13 (for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual reference)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 15, 2014
Box Office: $37.7M

The Weinstein Company - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Philomena

All Critics (171) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (158) | Rotten (13) | DVD (1)

What at first seems formulaic comedy gains a deeper resonance as we see how they represent two responses to cruelty and injustice -- first outrage, and with time, eventually, forgiveness.

Full Review… | December 22, 2013
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

It's smart and unsweetened.

Full Review… | December 10, 2013
Grantland
Top Critic

Even as Philomena embraces the expected feel-good dynamics, it avoids taking the usual path and doesn't paint all of the "evil" nuns with the same brush.

Full Review… | November 28, 2013
Toronto Star
Top Critic

We wouldn't care about any of this if the performances were weak. But both actors find complexity and depth.

Full Review… | November 27, 2013
Associated Press
Top Critic

At its core, this clever, wrenching, profound story underscores the tenacity of faith in the face of unfathomable cruelty.

Full Review… | November 27, 2013
Washington Post
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | November 27, 2013
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Dench and Cooper could do this stuff in their sleep and keep us entertained, which they do, but it's the nuanced twists and turns in both the characters and the story that elevate the picture beyond the familiar.

Full Review… | June 28, 2014
Windy City Times

I'd be a grouch to call the two leads anything but delightful, and they both stretch in directions you mightn't expect.

Full Review… | April 23, 2014
Columbus Alive

Director Frears handles the story with enough dramatic weight and light comic fare to make "Philomena" a sweet and very compelling human tale...

Full Review… | March 1, 2014
Cinema Crazed

Be not fooled by the marketing materials, which make the film look like an aged-up version of The Trip with Judi Dench in place of Rob Brydon. Philomena is a terrifically made, entertaining work.

Full Review… | February 28, 2014
Concrete Playground

Dench is brilliant as the adult Philomena. In spite of her generally outgoing appearance there is a sadness behind her eyes born of five decades of heartbreak.

Full Review… | February 9, 2014
MediaMikes

Despite the glum subject, Coogan and Dench raise plenty of smiles as the unlikeliest of couples.

Full Review… | February 7, 2014
Daily Record [UK]

Equal parts uplifting tearjerker, odd-couple comedy, and righteous screed against abuse of power in the name of religion

Full Review… | February 6, 2014
Q Network Film Desk

It's a film with depth, tackling big issues while managing to be an immensely personal story at the same time.

Full Review… | January 30, 2014
The Standard

Earns its heartwarming-ness honestly, with Dench and Coogan mouthing the dialogue with utter believability.

Full Review… | January 9, 2014
East Bay Express

As much a poignant meditation on motherhood lost as a searing indictment of the Catholic Church's antiquated attitude about what might be in the best interests of an adopted child.

Full Review… | January 7, 2014
Baret News

Dench triumphs in tale of a search for a son

Full Review… | January 2, 2014
Movie Habit

Very nicely balanced and unexpectedly moving.

Full Review… | December 27, 2013
Combustible Celluloid

As much a poignant meditation on motherhood lost as a searing indictment of the Catholic Church's antiquated attitude about what might be in the best interests of an adopted child.

Full Review… | December 26, 2013
Sly Fox

Not only is the film an interesting real-life drama, it also works as a buddy comedy thanks to the versatile performances of both Steve Coogan and Judi Dench.

Full Review… | December 25, 2013
ABC Radio Brisbane

A great story as well as the greatest pairing of a male nonbeliever an a female believer since "The African Queen".

Full Review… | December 24, 2013
rec.arts.movies.reviews

A beautiful, moving story, directed with unhurried, unforced grace by veteran Stephen Frears (The Queen; High Fidelity). If, at the end of this film, you don't at least get a little misty-eyed, please check your pulse: you might already be dead.

Full Review… | December 24, 2013

Flawless performances and the perfect blend of pathos and humour ensures this is a crowd-pleaser in the best sense of the word.

Full Review… | December 23, 2013
FILMINK (Australia)

Lovingly crafted and beautifully told, Philomena is one of this year's highlights.

Full Review… | December 23, 2013
MovieFIX

One of the best purely British films of the year.

Full Review… | December 23, 2013
At the Movies (Australia)

I think this is a really good film. You've got to admire Steve Coogan for the projects he takes on.

Full Review… | December 23, 2013
At the Movies (Australia)

Audience Reviews for Philomena

A remarkable film in every way. The acting was excellent -- a lifetime of pain and regret can been seen in Dench's eyes at certain times. The script was wonderful -- credibly showing different (but equally valid) reactions to unspeakable injustice by two people of different ages, faith experiences, genders, and educational backgrounds. This is one of my favorite films of 2013.

cchclaw
Christian C

Super Reviewer

½

These two unlikely companions are on a journey to find her long lost son.

Very Good FIim! Sometimes I get the feeling filmmakers have lost their way. Formulas work and make the basics irrelevant so we get carbon copy blockbusters appealing to the masses clearly showing a reckless disregard for what filmmaking is all about: visually telling a story. And then a film like Philomena comes along and reminds us of the magic that can happen when a true craftsman and artist skillfully blends the basic ingredients of story, character, camera, and music into an exhilarating and powerful work of art. This film is satisfying at every level and gives me hope that some people still know what they are doing when they take the money and do their job effectively. The folks on this one should be extremely proud of their efforts.

When former journalist Martin Sixsmith is dismissed from the Labour Party in disgrace, he is at a loss as to what do. That changes when a young Irish woman approaches him about a story of her mother, Philomena, who had her son taken away when she was a teenage inmate of a Catholic convent. Martin arranges a magazine assignment about her search for him that eventually leads to America. Along the way, Martin and Philomena discover as much about each other as about her son's fate. Furthermore, both find their basic beliefs challenged.

MANUGINO
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

½

Phenomenal. Par excellence.

imrealgod
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

The best of the nominated films I've seen so far. If August: Osage County had been nominated as well, it would be a tie for these two. Hats off to Dench and Coogan for their transformative performances.

binky013
Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

Philomena Quotes


Philomena Lee: We come full circle. Martin Sixsmith: Yes ... the end of all our exploring, Will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. Philomena Lee: Ah, that's lovely Martin. Did you just think of that? Martin Sixsmith: No, it's T.S. Eliot. Philomena Lee: Oh well never mind. It's still very nice.
– Submitted by Ken C (6 months ago)
Sister Hildegarde: The Lord Jesus Christ will be my judge - not the likes of you. Martin Sixsmith: Really? Because I think if Jesus was here right now he'd tip you out of that fucking wheelchair - and you wouldn't get up and walk.
– Submitted by Ken C (6 months ago)
Philomena Lee: And after I had the sex, I thought anything that feels so lovely must be wrong. Martin Sixsmith: Fucking Catholics.
– Submitted by Ken C (6 months ago)
Philomena Lee: My Dad went to Catholic school and got my Mom pregnant. He married her. She hated me. She beat me. I wish she would have given me up for adoption.
– Submitted by Teri S (7 months ago)
Philomena Lee: I did not abandon my child, he was taken away from me.
– Submitted by Ben K (8 months ago)
Philomena Lee: If God were in there, he'd say you were a fucking idiot!
– Submitted by Tracye H (8 months ago)

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