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4.0 3
Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark


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The title character of Stephen Frears' Philomena is played by Judi Dench. She is an elderly Irish woman who, as a teenager, gave birth while she was working at a convent. The Catholic Church had the child adopted, and now, decades later, Philomena is introduced to Martin Sixsmith (


The title character of Stephen Frears' Philomena is played by Judi Dench. She is an elderly Irish woman who, as a teenager, gave birth while she was working at a convent. The Catholic Church had the child adopted, and now, decades later, Philomena is introduced to Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), onetime government spokesperson who is now working as a freelance journalist. Martin agrees to help Philomena look for her son, and the trail takes them to the United States, and brings them face-to-face with some long-buried secrets. All the while, the type-A Martin and the ceaselessly charming Philomena learn to trust each other. Philomena screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
As prevalent as religion and religious belief are in the world, it is surprising how few films deal directly with the realities and difficulties of living up to such a high moral standard. Veteran director Stephen Frears, working from a first-rate script by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope that's based on a true story, does exactly that in the smart, funny, and deeply poignant Philomena. The title character, played by Judi Dench, is a woman in her eighties who, as a teenager, was forced by the nuns at the convent where she worked to give her child up for adoption. Overwhelmed by the need to finally find him, the occasionally dotty Philomena is aided in her quest by Martin Sixsmith (Coogan), a disgraced former government press agent now eking out a career as a freelance journalist. Their search for her son leads to America, where it turns out that Sixsmith's political experience may be of more help than he imagined. For all of its deeper themes about faith, forgiveness, and love, Philomena is first and foremost a road movie in which the sweet, simple old woman keeps annoying the cynical, sardonic reporter to the point of comedic frustration. In that respect, you could not ask for a more perfect odd couple than Dench and Coogan. She plays unfailingly polite and earnest without making it seem dull, and Coogan portrays congenital smugness with greater dexterity than anyone on the planet -- they are a ceaselessly amusing pair. There are few directors as adept with actors as Frears, and here he lets his dynamic duo shine at every opportunity. There's a scene early on in which Philomena explains in great detail to Martin the plot of the romance novel she's reading. The entire interaction happens as they are whizzing around an airport on the back of a shuttle -- and the monologue transpires over the course of four elaborate dolly shots that give you the sensation of movement while simultaneously letting you savor both Dench's hilarious speech and Coogan's deadpan reactions that communicate his annoyance at listening to this woman prattle on. All that sparring sets us up for the moment when the mystery of Philomena's son deepens, and soon Martin -- who started out helping the old woman for his own benefit -- finds himself more invested in the outcome than he ever expected. This is a remarkable and revealing change of pace for Coogan as a performer. His comedic persona is one of curdled sarcasm, and as the co-writer here he's figured out a way to show the full range of emotions that type of character can encompass. He's just as funny here as he's ever been, but, as in The Trip, he reveals an unexpected depth in a man that at first seems incapable of feeling anything other than disdain. Their character arcs culminate in a climactic scene in which they confront the people responsible for taking Philomena's son away from her. The differences between Philomena and Martin in this moment are stark, and the sequence lays bare the movie's deep humanity: It does not require you to choose sides between her devout belief or his cynical secularism, but simply shows that these are two valid ways of dealing with your life and the world. Philomena is a beautiful movie because it isn't about how people are wronged, but how they react to being wronged. It's also a ceaselessly entertaining film because Dench and Coogan are playing fully realized characters and share a unique comedic chemistry. Under Frears' sympathetic eye, all of it comes together -- making Philomena yet another gem in his formidable filmography.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

A conversation with Judi Dench; The real Philomena Lee; Q&A with Steve Coogan; Feature commentary with Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Judi Dench Philomena Lee
Steve Coogan Martin Sixsmith
Sophie Kennedy Clark Young Philomena
Anna Maxwell Martin Jane Anna
Ruth McCabe Mother Barbara
Barbara Jefford Sister Hildegarde
Mare Winningham Mary
Michelle Fairley Sally Mitchell
Peter Hermann Pete Olsson
Kate Fleetwood Young Sister Hildegarde
Sean Mahon Michael
Wunmi Mosaku Young Nun
Amy McCallister Sister Anunciata
Charlie Murphy Kathleen
Charissa Shearer Peg
Nika McGuigan Bridie
Rachel Wilcock Mamie
Rita Hamill Nursery Nun
Tadhg Bowen Young Anthony
Saoirse Bowen Young Mary
Harrison D'Ampney Anthony (8-10 Years)
DJ McGrath John
Simone Lahbib Kate Sixsmith
Sara Stewart Marcia Weller
Gary Lilburn Priest
Charles Edwards David
Nicholas Jones Dr. Robert
Paris Arrowsmith Bellboy
Marie Jones Barman's Mum
Frankie McCafferty Barman
Vaughn Joseph Receptionist Hotel
George Fisher Omelette Chef
Jordan King Waitress
Amber Batty Marge
Martin Glyn Murray Father
Elliot Levey Alex
Florence Keith-Roach Check In Operator
George Michael Rados Priest In Church

Technical Credits
Stephen Frears Director
Jim Ball Camera Operator
Timothy Bird Asst. Director
Valerio Bonelli Editor
Consolata Boyle Costumes/Costume Designer
Steve Coogan Producer,Screenwriter
Leo Davis Casting
Alexandre Desplat Score Composer
Naomi Donne Makeup
Karen Elliott Musical Direction/Supervision
Heather Greenlees Art Director
Lissy Holm Casting
François Ivernel Executive Producer
Christine Langan Executive Producer
Leslie MacDonald Art Director
Alan Macdonald Production Designer
Carolyn Marks-Blackwood Executive Producer
Cameron Mccracken Executive Producer
Cathy Mooney Production Manager
Henry Normal Executive Producer
Jeff Pope Screenwriter
Jay Price Sound Editor
Robbie Ryan Cinematographer
Deborah Saban Asst. Director
Tracey Seaward Producer
Sarah Stuart Art Director
Gabrielle Tana Producer
Rachael Tate Sound Editor
Dennis Towns Sound Mixer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- PHILOMENA
1. Chapter 1 [3:43]
2. Chapter 2 [4:48]
3. Chapter 3 [5:00]
4. Chapter 4 [8:11]
5. Chapter 5 [5:23]
6. Chapter 6 [9:03]
7. Chapter 7 [7:16]
8. Chapter 8 [5:56]
9. Chapter 9 [7:43]
10. Chapter 10 [5:24]
11. Chapter 11 [:11]
12. Chapter 12 [7:16]
13. Chapter 13 [5:10]
14. Chapter 14 [7:47]
15. Chapter 15 [6:31]
16. Chapter 16 [3:12]
17. Chapter 17 [5:14]


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Philomena 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very powerful story, well-done movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved every minute of it. Humor + Serious! I may order the DVD as I could watch it many more times. Judie Dench is a great actress !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brilliant and Charming I loved this movie. Great script. Very well acted - not surprising considering Judie Dench and Steve Cougan. Excellent production values. Kept me engrossed the whole time. Never once considered using the fast forward button. I could watch this movie again and again. Enough said.