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'Philomena' review: Dark story filled with infectious optimism

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Philomena (movie)


Based on the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” by Martin Sixsmith, Stephen Frears has created another tender, touchy subject film with “Philomena.” More than questioning the Catholic Church’s treatment of unwed mothers and their children in the past, “Philomena” shines best when contrasting the life perspectives of the two main characters.

A cynical journalist recently booted from a high-profile job (Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan) considers writing a book on Russian history but receives no support from those around him. At a party, he meets Jane (Anna Maxwell Martin), the daughter of Philomena (Judi Dench); Jane tries to get him to find her half-brother for her mother who gave him up for adoption. Decades of telling no one of the son she gave away, Philomena finally recounts her story of becoming pregnant and being forced to live in a convent. With Martin’s helpful investigative skills and numerous contacts, Philomena and Martin travel to the U.S. after receiving no help from the convent’s nuns in locating her son. While in the U.S., she receives news she never expected and other information is confirmed.

Juxtaposing two very different life perspectives, Philomena’s warm, naïve charm and positive mindset lingers after the film, and even Martin’s cynicism is swayed. Philomena may be innocent, occasionally awkward, and simple-minded, but her joy is infectious and adorable.

The affirmative moments help make “Philomena’s” darker, deeper story less heart-breaking. A film about family and acceptance, Philomena’s warm spirit makes “Philomena” a great family time watch during the holidays.

Rating for “Philomena:” A-

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“Philomena” is only playing at five theatres in Columbus: Drexel, Marcus Crosswoods, and AMC Lennox, Easton, and Dublin. For showtimes, click here.


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