Philomena (2013) by Stephen Frears

This film made me laugh a minute in and everyone knows that if you can make the person laugh, you’re in. Don’t get me wrong though, this film is no comedy. It is a heartwarming dramatization of a true story of a mother looking for her son, fifty years after he was taken away from her. The reason this tragic story manages to make you laugh is because of the two incredible and very real people that go on the journey. On the one hand you have Philomena who is an Irish Catholic woman who grew up in a church, and on the other you have Michael who is a bitter British journalist, wrongfully fired for a faux pass.

The two make a contentious duo well fitted for a road trip across continents. They are not alike but they are endearing and while their differences are stark, they only highlight the themes and tone of the story better. The whole experience is made even better by the actors, Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, who ground the film and the characters, giving depth through subtle expressions and tense silences while also alleviating somber moments with just the right amount of humor. In stories such as these, where so much of the audience’s time is spent watching characters interact, it is paramount that the casting be on point and it most certainly is in this case.

I do think a few minutes could have been shaved off the film, however, as I am watching it at home, I can’t help but think that this is more a result of my environment than the film. I think Philomena might be one of those oddly sweet films that I will like to come back to when I am older and wiser. A nourishing experience all around.

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