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Review of "PHILOMENA"
By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2014. Written 1st January 2014 First published 1st January 2014.
REVIEW: "PHILOMENA" by Jayne Waterford

Evil has a new name: Sister Hildegarde (Barbara Jefford).

That's the thing about Stephen Frears, once of "THE QUEEN" (2006) starring a Helen Mirren who joked her husband would never fuck her again. He doesn't mind doing hatchet jobs on people he finds ridiculous. In the Queen he cast comedian, James Cromwell, as Prince Philip. Here, in his latest offering to come out on Boxing Day, Frears "PHILOMENA" gives us a Hildegarde who places the girls in the hands of god as they struggle to give birth and often die. The evil crone gets the second last word in as she crows about her personal chastity and mortification of the flesh. Philomena trumps her with, "I forgive you," without a trace of bitterness. Evil! Evil! Evil! But I won't spoil it.

Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) has just been scape-goated out of his serious career as a journalist when he meets Jane (Anna Maxwell Martin), Philomena's daughter, serving food and beverages at a function he attends. Jane has only just been told by her very upset mother that that day was the 50th birthday of Anthony, Jane's brother, a boy she'd never heard about before. And it is high drama. Everyone is auspiciously great

as we read their points of view and recent experiences via movie camera telepathy. Martin's initial response is to side-step her mother's story, dismissing it rather brutally as a human-interest story, something about, "ignorant," and boring people written for, "ignorant," and boring people. But in the end, lucky for our true story, he tracks her down and they all meet.

The rawness of the emotions experienced by our whole group at the hands of the evil behaviour of Sister Hildegarde and her co-horts, is confronting and possibly award winning.

Judi Dench goes some way to redeem the hair style of bitter old Barbara Covett from Richard Eyre's "NOTES OF A SCANDAL" (2006), where she starred opposite Cate Blanchett, on the person of sweet Philomena. Perhaps if Barbara had had a child and loved someone...

What we're shown is a dreadful truth.

Personally, I preferred Steve Coogan's performance as Alan Partridge. It was after all all about Alan. This was rightly all about Philomena. I wonder if the film would have been made if Philomena's story didn't hit all of the features on Martin's editor's check list for a happy/sad

block busting article? I'm glad they didn't go that way with the film. 10/10

Copyrighted ©: Jayne Waterford, 2014.

Stephen Frears'
"PHILOMENA" (2013)
Director Stephen Frears
Producers Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Gabrielle Tana
Stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan
Release Date 26th December 2013
Category Drama
Running Time 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
Rating M
Origin UK
Awards More than likely.
Coda No
http://philomenamovie.com/
Distributor Hopscotch Film

Official Blurb " "PHILOMENA" is the true story of one mother’s search for her lost son. Falling pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a, "fallen woman". When her baby was only a toddler, he was whisked away by the nuns to America for adoption. Philomena spent the next fifty years searching for him in vain. Then she met Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary journalist as cynical as Philomena was trusting. Together they set off for America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena’s son, but also the powerful bond that grew between Philomena and Martin.

Based on Sixsmith's acclaimed book, 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: a mother, her son and a fifty-year search,' the film is a bitter-sweet drama, a compelling narrative of human love and loss and ultimately a celebration of life." - Hopscotch Film PR

Director Stephen Frears on the set of "PHILOMENA"
In cinemas December 26, 2013. For Hopscotch eOne film release
(FSC:AV) Alex Bailey © 2013 Pathe Productions Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation, British Film Institute and Philomena Lee Limited
Young Philomena Lee (Sophie Kennedy Clark) with her son Anthony, in a scene from Stephen Frears' "PHILOMENA"
In cinemas December 26, 2013. For Hopscotch eOne film release
(FSC:AV) Alex Bailey © 2013 Pathe Productions Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation, British Film Institute and Philomena Lee Limited
Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) in a scene from Stephen Frears' "PHILOMENA"
In cinemas December 26, 2013. For Hopscotch eOne film release
(FSC:AV) Alex Bailey © 2012 Pathe Productions Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation, British Film Institute and Philomena Lee Limited
Philomena Lee (Judi Dench, left), Mother Barbara (Ruth McCabe) and Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) in a scene from Stephen Frears' "PHILOMENA"
In cinemas December 26, 2013. For Hopscotch eOne film release
(FSC:AV) Alex Bailey © 2013 Pathe Productions Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation, British Film Institute and Philomena Lee Limited
Philomena Lee (Judi Dench, left) and Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) in a scene from Stephen Frears' "PHILOMENA"
In cinemas December 26, 2013. For Hopscotch eOne film release
(FSC:GK) Alex Bailey © 2012 Pathe Productions Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation, British Film Institute and Philomena Lee Limited