A study was released recently stating that British cinema rarely turns a profit. Despite turning out many films yearly, few find an audience (even in the Native United Kingdom). Despite the high wash-out rate, a handful wow across the pond. This year, a small film about a mother’s secret has emerged as an award-worthy endeavor home and abroad.
Dame Judi Dench takes the lead in “Philomena”, the story of a devout Catholic woman with a secret. 50 years before, Philomena was forced to put her young son up for adoption since he was conceived out of wedlock. Being forced to work off the price of labor, Philomena slaves away and leaves without telling anyone. But despite never knowing the location or life of her son, she never stops wondering about his life. When her story gets to a recently disgraced journalist (Steve Coogan), the two begin a trek to find her long-lost son.
Based on a true story, “Philomena” is a wonderful story of reconnecting with those we’ve lost and coming to terms with past mistakes. Coogan, a master at making unlikable characters endearing, expertly takes on the role of the jaded journalist. His chemistry with Dame Judy Dench keeps the movie rolling at all times. The screenplay, co-write by Coogan, is ripe with dialogue and wit that rarely loses an American audience.
Controversy say surrounded the film due to its supposed depiction of the Catholic Church and their lack of cooperation in Philomena’s search for her son. The bigger uproar was the film’s initial rating by the MPAA. Simply by having a handful of swearing, “Philomena” was given an R rating. Upon appeal, the film was downgraded to PG-13. Having seen the film, the scarcity of language and the complete absence of any violence or nudity make such a harsh rating misguided. This is a family friendly film that is a great story for the whole family. With luck, Coogan can add Academy Award nominee (or winner) to his resume for writing or acting. Dench, however, is a lock for a Best Actress nominee. 3.5 out of 5 stars
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