The hardest part about watching Philomena, a film based on the true story of an Irish woman’s search for the son she gave up for adoption 50 years previous, is accepting the amazing Judi Dench as a bumbling simpleton in the title role. “We don’t have Mexicans in England—we have Indians,” she excitedly explains to the Mexican-American cooks. If you can get over Dench as Grandma Goof—a role she plays as best she can—then Philomena stands on its own two feet. One of those feet is the enthralling, often emotional storyline. Philomena and Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a political journalist who’s taken on his first human-interest story, uncover secrets both cloistered in the nunnery where Philomena’s child was born and spread across America, where her son was taken as a child. Unfortunately, the other foot is the waiter-my-soup humor that Fawlty Towers made irrelevant four decades ago. A stuffy Martin plays off the oblivious Philomena and vice versa. After suggesting that Martin not print her real name in the story, Philomena asks, “What about Anne…Anne Boleyn? It’s a lovely name!” After the film ends, it’s Philomena’s story that sticks. Director Stephen Frears and company should be given credit only for staying out of the real Philomena’s way.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
- MPAA Rating: PG-13
- Critic's Score: C-
- Watch the trailer