Having delighted the British press, how will Coogan and Dench sit internationally?
Philomena enjoyed a brilliant critical response in the UK, with special mentions for actors Steve Coogan and Judi Dench for the way they handled the emotive subject matter with grace, dignity and a level of humility, injecting a sensitive level of lightheartedness. But, with the film’s U.S release two days ago, how will it translate to an American audience?
Philomena is out for the Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S
The story, based on real life events, surrounds a journalist’s quest to unite a mother with her lost son. Dench plays Philomena, who fell pregnant at a young age, out of wedlock. The nuns in her Irish-catholic looked upon her situation with disdain, putting her son up for adoption in America.
Coogan, who plays Martin Sixsmith – the journalist that found his calling by aiding Philomena on her quest, said he connected with the story when he read it due to his own background. He saw similarities, and set about conveying the story to the best of his ability. Luckily, he is a man of immense ability.
While primarily known for his work in comedy – Alan Partridge has become a national institution, and was recently handed his own feature film – Coogan’s dramatic turns have been understated, and equally celebrated. And if the American critics are to be believed, the story will transcend borders to be enjoyed by an international audience.
“Director Steven Frears deserves special mention. A lesser filmmaker could so easily have turned this project into mushy, sentimental junk. The tear-jerking moments here are heartfelt and real. It's the kind of filmmaking we see too little of today,” wrote Bill Zwecker in his review for the Chicago Sun Times.
Also impressed was Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post. “At its core,” she writes, “this clever, wrenching, profound story underscores the tenacity of faith in the face of unfathomable cruelty.” Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “Go beyond the manner of its telling and you find a story of cruelty and evil, of shocking acts committed under a veneer of civility and sanctity.”
The movie has retained its ‘certified fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an impressive accumulative score of 92%. Despite facing serious competition in the first half of November from Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Butler and Thor: The Dark World, Philomena didn’t make a bad showing in the Box Office, and a similarly solid performance stateside is expected.
We’ll have a full Thanksgiving box office report on Monday, with Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire vying for the big money top spots.
Steve Coogan and Judi Dench have been praised for their performances in Philomena