During award season there are always films that come along that seem to get a ton of buzz, but rarely are box office smash hits. More often than not these films are not for everyone, such is the case with the trailers for Philomena. The film features a great cast in Judi Dench and Steve Coogan but is it one that lives up to the hype or is it a journey that you wish you would have never taken?
Philomena follows a former journalist who is dismissed from the Labour Party in disgrace, but that changed when a young Irish woman approaches him about a story of her mother, who had her son taken away when she was a teenage inmate of a Catholic convent. He arranges a magazine assignment about her search for him that eventually leads to America. Along the way, they discover as much about each other as about her son's fate and find both of their basic beliefs challenged. This is one of those films that is so much more than you would think. There is the clear story here that the film is focusing on, but in the end it is about so much more than just the mother looking for her son. There is a simple connection to these characters that builds from a bit of annoyance for each other into special bond that is both sad and heartwarming. Coogan and Dench give brilliant performances that not only live up to the hype, but surpass it. Dench gives everything to this role being forced to showcase every possible emotion you can think of and does so with such brilliance it is a sight to see. Coogan takes on a more toned down role than normal, but brings a tortured soul and a jaded spirit to the role that is necessary to make it work.
There are some twist moments that are not all that surprisingly, but the way they all played out and were executed are brilliant. There are just enough amusing moments to break up the heavy nature of the overall film, but never takes you away from the story it is trying to tell. This is a powerful movie that lets the actors performance tell the story instead of all the usual camera tricks and over inflated budget so be sure to check out Philomena when it hits stores on April 15th.