Review By Cole Clay
Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Steve Coogan, Judi Dench and Sophie Kennedy Clark
Acclaimed British filmmaker Stephen Frears (“The Queen,” 2006) masks his richly sophisticated film as an odd couple tale. But where the film truly finds its heart lies underneath. Frears directs vastly talented actors Steve Coogan (“Tropic Thunder,” 2008) and Judi Dench (“Skyfall,” 2012) through a whirlwind of emotions that will have you walking the emotional tightrope. This mixed bag of feelings travels poignantly from woeful to uplifting before colliding into a climax that will leave you dizzy from enchantment.
“Philomena” is about sardonic journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan), who is appointed to write a story on Philomena Lee (Dench), a woman searching for her son who was taken away from her 50 years prior, after being forced to reside in a convent.
Coogan penned the screenplay, although it juggles a wide variety of tonal shifts, it strikes a confident balance that uses sharp humor to keep the film from tipping over into sappy melodrama. Topics including religion, faith and forgiveness are tackled as each of these elements is allowed to coexist without being heavy-handed. Coogan’s pitch-perfect performance accompanied with the legendary Dench is marvelous as the duo strike up a friendship that is one for the ages.