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“Philomena” – Review (POSITIVE)

December 19, 2013

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 2.18.12 PMSteve Coogan is definitely recognized for his broad comedy work, but rarely in the dramatic field, recently he starred in “The Look of Love”, a film about the life of Paul Raymond, the controversial entrepreneur who became Britain’s richest man. “The Look of Love” shows Coogan going for other elements in his choice of starring roles, and although the movie itself was weak paced, Coogan managed to hold the movie on it’s feet thanks to his performance.

Coogan is also a writer, and seeing his name appear in the credits for “Philomena” was quite a surprise for me, the content alone didn’t really peg me as something he would be interested in doing, but that shows how much I know.

Martin Sixsmith (Coogan), a world-weary political journalist and former spin doctor to the British Prime Minister, is at a fault momentarily, after being let go from his position in politics, Martin is forced to accept the world around him, and figure out the next step in his life. He claims that he’s writing a book about Russian History, but it doesn’t really seem to excite him.

In comes Philomena  (Judi Dench), a woman who grew up in a dark Scottish nunnery, where the woman who run the place force girls into manual labor, and sell their newborn babies to highest paid American buyers. Philomena was forced to give up her son, and she hasn’t seen him since he was 2 yrs old. She wants to find him, and to see if he ever once thought of her and his Scottish roots. Martin comes into contact with Philomena, and is inspired to participate in her journey and tell a human piece that will affect many people.

Have to say, I didn’t really know what to make of this movie when I saw the trailer, it looked like mild Oscar bait fluff, and in some cases it is, if I were an Academy member, it would more than likely garner Best Actress & Best Adapted Screenplay nom. I never read the original book, by the real life Sixsmith, but I’m sure it was adapted to the best of it’s ability. The performances are solid here, Coogan and Dench really have one of the Best on screen dramatic chemistry’s this year.

The movie, does take some interesting twists and turns, but sometimes it sets itself up for a question, leading to a possible mystery that may be revealed later on, and then it never amounts to anything. There’s a moment in the film were Martin asks, “Why would somebody who knew their real mother, not want to ask about them?” The way it’s stated just comes off as if a certain revelation will conspire, and this happens quite a few more times in the film.

However, be that as it may, the revelation about Philomena’s son and how it comes into full circle is quite marvelous, touching, and heartbreaking. It shows us that we need to cherish and hold onto our respective loved ones. Being apart, whether it’s by choice or brute force, if you never talk or here from them, you will regret and become haunted by it for the rest of your life.

GRADE: B+

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