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Martin is a journo down on his luck. Freshly fired and depressed he is on the crossroad of whether to pursue the writing career or become a freelance journalist.
Philomena is a woman of certain age who has finally decided to reveal the secret of her youth - fifty years ago she gave birth to a child who had been taken away from her.
Martin’s and Philomena’s chance encounter takes them on a journey to find Philomena’s son and discovering much more than they bargained for. However there’s no gain where there’s no loss…
A simple premise of Philomena proves that simple can be deep. With many undertones it brushes on the themes of love and friendship, faith and religion, good and evil and the thin line between them. Above all it is about destiny. While the quirky humour of the protagonists will make you laugh PHILOMENA will also catch you off guard revealing raw emotion underneath without being overly sentimental.
Director Stephen Frears is a movie making veteran who is skilled in working with leading ladies.: Glenn Close in “DANGEROUS LIASONS”, Julia Roberts in “MARY REILLY” and Helen Mirren in “THE QUEEN” are just to name a few. The one he keeps on coming back to is Judy Dench (their previous collaboration was “MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS”).
Judy Dench’s Philomena Lee is slightly daffy, but strong willed where circumstances require. She discovers the life anew every day, but even in the changing world she stands by her believes.
Steve Coogan’s Martin is a “seen it all”, very worldly but a bitter man who’s sarcastic view of good and evil (evil is good for the story - he says) is unforgiving, but his questioning nature is the strong shoulder Philomena can rely upon. It is the great chemistry between Dench’s and Coogan’s characters that makes PHILOMENA to stand out as a film.
The movie is beautifully shot, revealing the Autumn touch of Ireland and some picturesque sights of Washington. Most of the outside is shot in the evening with pink touches of the setting sun as if reminding us that time for Philomena to “see the light” is running short. The music of Alexandre Desplat, a many times collaborator if Stephen Frears the director, is playfully beautiful but rarely sad, just like the nature of the main protagonists.
It is always a fantastic feeling when one is expecting a good movie but ends up seeing a great one instead. Philomena Lee herself could not say it better: “I never saw it coming!”