Philomena is released in the US today (22nd November). The film is based on the true story of Philomena Lee who attempts to find the child she was forced to give up for adoption fifty years before.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in Philomena.
The biopic, based on a true story and adapted from Martin Sixsmith's book The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee, follows one woman's attempt to find the child she was forced to give away. Lee fell pregnant in Ireland in 1952 and was taken to a convent as a 'fallen woman'. She was forced to give up her son for adoption. The film shows Lee's journey to the US in order to find her child. She was aided by journalist Sixsmith, whose account the film is based on.
Critical response has been largely positive. Those reviewing the film have focussed on three aspects: Dench's performance; the road trip style; and the emotional response the film elicits.
The film's producers, the BBC, describe Philomena as a 'bitter-sweet comedy, a compelling narrative of human love and loss, and a heart-breaking story that ultimately celebrates life."
This is certainly echoed by a number of critics. The film has been described as "heart-warming" and "emotional." The Guardian's critic, Peter Bradshaw, claimed Philomena is "a moving and exhilarating film, and the strange chemistry between Dench and Coogan ferments into a 120-degree proof emotional drama."
Philomena stars Steve Coogan and Judi Dench as Philomena Lee and Martin Sixsmith. A younger version of Lee is played by Sophie Kennedy Clark (Black Mirror). They are supported by a host of British and Irish actors including Neve Gachev (About Time), Simone Lahbib (Single-Handed), Charlie Murphy (The Village) and Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey).
Dench has been complimented by critics who have described her as "one of the acting world's greats" (Claudia Puig, USA Today). Puig expanded further on Dench's performance, stating she "brings the Irish-born Philomena to life with good humour and dignity." Furthermore, scathing critics claim Dench is the "best" reason to see this "unapologetic crowd pleaser" (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.)
Where the film has been criticised it is due to the road trip type aspect of the movie. One rather scathing review reduces the film to "a witless bore about a ninny and a jerk having one of those dire, heavily staged, only-in-movies odd-couple road trips. (Kyle Smith, The New York Post.)
Philomena is released in US cinemas today 22nd November 2013.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan's performances have been highly praised.