Odd Couple 

Coogan and Dench Are a Perfect Pair in Philomena

PHILOMENA Old people: sometimes they can get you sweet rides on little carts!

PHILOMENA Old people: sometimes they can get you sweet rides on little carts!

PHILOMENA IS A QUIRKY MOVIE about an adorable old Irish lady—played by none other than Dame Judi Dench—and its release is timed to coincide with prime holiday family-movie viewing season. You're right to be skeptical. All signs point to schlock.

But Philomena is excellent, thanks to the brilliant odd-couple pairing of Judi Dench and Steve Coogan—and to a script that balances heart, humor, and a fierce sense of moral outrage.

Closely based on a true story, Philomena is about a disgraced government official, Martin Sixsmith (Coogan, who also co-wrote the script), who picks up a freelance writing assignment to keep himself busy after he's forced to resign from his job. It's a human interest story: An elderly woman, Philomena (Dench), is trying to track down the son she gave birth to in a convent more than 50 years before, when she was young, unwed, and forced to give her fatherless baby up for adoption. Her mission takes her to the US, with Martin a cynical guide and counterpoint to her unerring, cute-little-old-lady cheer.

Philomena is deeply personally invested in finding her son, but Martin is looking for a good story—a story that begins to look pretty good indeed when it becomes clear that it involves eeeevil nuns and faith-based oppression in both Ireland and the US. The tension between their respective agendas only compounds the many ways in which these two are different: Philomena is deeply religious, while Martin is an atheist; Philomena is kindly to a fault, Martin is kind of a dick. Philomena is a surprisingly complex little film that pulls off some impressive balancing acts; chief among them is that it permits two very different worldviews and personality types to co-exist without condemning either one. Dench and Coogan should franchise an odd-couple buddy comedy series, because their pairing is perfect.

Philomena
Rated PG-13 · 97 minutes · 2013
Official Site: philomenamovie.com
Director: Stephen Frears
Producer: Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Henry Normal, Christine Langan, Cameron McCracken, Fran├žois Ivernel and Carolyn Blackwood
Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Michelle Fairley, Barbara Jefford, Anna Maxwell Martin, Mare Winningham, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Peter Hermann and Ruth McCabe

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Philomena

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Comments are closed.

From the Archives

More by Alison Hallett

Most Commented On

Top Viewed Stories

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC

115 SW Ash St. Suite 600
Portland, OR 97204

Contact Info | Privacy Policy | Production Guidelines | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy