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Philomena (12A)

Philomena (12A)


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.

The critical consensus

Judi Dench is a delight in the moving, surprisingly funny film of the true life scandal of the baby sold to adoption by the Catholic church.

****(*)Xan Brooks, The Observer, 01/09/2013

Dealing with issues of faith and forgiveness, it may lack the potency of Peter Mullan’s The Magdalene Sisters, but it’s own quiet way, Philomena is just as powerful.

****(*)James Mottram, The List, 08/10/2013

I didn’t hate Philomena, but it’s a little complacent about its power to touch a middlebrow audience. I’d certainly like to see Coogan write something else, but although his heart is in the right place, his approach at this stage is sometimes boilerplate, soldered on without finesse.

***(*)(*)Siobhan Synnot, The Scotsman, 27/10/2013

What makes Philomena so winning is the sophisticated way in which it condemns the behaviour of the Catholic Church without denigrating people of faith – a delicate tightrope act that has given plenty of more high-minded films vertigo.

***(*)(*)Jamie Dunn, The Skinny, 28/10/2013

A terrific, sophisticated comedy that tackles serious issues with a lightness of touch and a spirit of steel, Philomena is the British film to beat come BAFTA time.

*****Damon Wise, Empire Online, 28/10/2013

Odd-couple chemistry from Dench and Coogan, a smart script and honed direction make this real-life story highly compelling. Blending comedy and tragedy, it secretes a potent sting.

****(*)Philip Kemp, Total Film, 28/10/2013

This is a doleful, radiant, understated comedy of hope and faith. That’s almost a definition of good British cinema.

****(*)Nigel Andrews, Financial Times, 31/10/2013

The result is a moving and exhilarating film, and the strange chemistry between Dench and Coogan ferments into a 120-degree proof emotional drama.

****(*)Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 31/10/2013

While the characters are rather one dimensional – especially, as the film itself describes them, the "evil nuns" – Dench and Coogan are a winning screen pairing, and the film plays to their strengths.

***(*)(*)Laurence Phelan, The Independent, 01/11/2013

Takes its time, but it gets there in the end.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies, 31/10/2013

Odd-couple tear jerker.

****(*)Brian Viner, Daily Mail, 28/10/2013

You are unlikely to see a better British film this year.

*****Allan Hunter, Daily Express, 01/11/2013

Philomena is so beautifully written and performed that it goes far beyond sitcom-style stereotyping.

*****Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent, 01/11/2013

Philomena is one of those unusual movies it's hard to imagine anyone not enjoying. It doesn't preach or patronise. It's bright and neat on the ethics of storytelling – Martin has qualms about flogging his subject to the glossies, as well as about the whole notion of the "human interest story" – but it never gets too meta.

*****Catherine Shoard, The Observer, 03/11/2013

Features about Philomena (12A)

Philomena: Steve Coogan and Judi Dench hit front in Golden Lion race

Andrew Pulver, The Observer, 31/09/2013

Dame Juni Dench: This is a shocking story that had to be told

Garth Pearce, Daily Express, 25/10/2013

Judi Dench: 'Philomena wears her tragedy very lightly'

Tim Masters, BBC, 01/11/2013

Philomena: a rare portrayal of the Catholic Church's failings

David Cox, The Guardian, 04/11/2013

Philomena: nun too sloppy when it comes to the facts

Alex von Tunzelmann, The Guardian, 11/11/2013

Philomena Lee issues letter defending film against anti-Catholic charge

Andrew Pulver, The Guardian, 28/11/2013

Where and when?

General release. Check local listings for show times.

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