Tuesday, April 15, 2014


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Philomena?  More like Phil-o-...um...I got nothing.

Philomena – 5 out of 5

My first thought when I started Philomena was, “I like Steve Coogan.” My second thought was, “Oh, Judi Dench is so adorable. I want to be her grandson and have her make me some chocolate chip cookies and knit me ugly sweaters that I will wear proudly.” And my final thought was, “Wow, this movie is great…it would be even better if Judi Dench was my grandma and brought me some cookies to enjoy while watching this.” Please adopt me as a grandson, Dench!

I would make such a great grandson, Judi!

Sixsmith sounds like an Old West gunslinger's name.
Based on the real life event and the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, the film tells the story of disgraced journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steven Coogan) who gets a human interest story in the form of Philomena (Judi Dench). When Philomena (which, to me, sounds like the name of a very expensive name brand cheese) was younger, she gave into her fiery loins and made sex-time with a young boy. Disgusted with her behavior, her father sends her to stay with some nuns where she is forced into menial labor to pay off her stay. While there, her son is sold and adopted off and a distraught Philomena (seriously, the name sound like a brand name cheese…but I’m not saying it’s a bad thing because it sounds like an EXPENSIVE cheese, so it has to be good) spends the next 50 years of her life trying to locate her boy. Together, her and Sixsmith track down every lead only to learn a horrible truth about her son and the reality of his adoption.

At least the horrible truth isn't that her son went on to become a reality show star.

Philomena is, and I’ll just say it right off the bat, just amazing. Why wasn’t this Best Picture? I already admitted in my review of 12 Years a Slave that, while it was a good movie, it didn’t feel like Best Picture material thanks to shoddy storytelling and a spectacle cast that was clearly latching on for the accolades the film was destined to have. Philomena, on the other hand, didn’t have these short straws. The film is terrifically put together and incredibly emotional. The story telling doesn’t feel like it jumps from point to point like 12 Years but rather it flows perfectly and you feel like you are on the journey of discover with Philomena and Sixsmith. Coogan, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jeff Pope, wrote a solid, emotional story that really captured the human element that it was based off of.

Don't get Coogan angry...you wouldn't like Coogan when he's angry.

Damn it, I'm crying just looking at this picture and realizing
that Judi Dench will never adopt me as her grandson.
And boy howdy is this film emotional. There was at least three separate occasions that the film brought tears to my eyes and it was all from the performance of Judi Dench (and at the end she really made me cry with just a single phrase she states to those who’ve wronged her). It’s no secret that the woman is one hell of an actor (and she kicked all sorts of ass as M) and what she brought to this film was incredible. She felt so natural, so real as Philomena. She was capable of being sweet, adorable, charming, amusing and heartbreaking with each passing scene. And I don’t want to sound like I’m downplaying Coogan because he was capable of being very amusing and outright captivating as Martin Sixsmith and how emotionally involved he gets with Philomena’s story. The end result of having these two together is a partnership that makes the film captivating and impossible to look away.

"Alright, so we split the bill three ways..."

Some have criticized the film for being “anti-Catholic” thanks to the truths that were revealed about losing Philomena’s baby but, when the Pope himself watches the film with the real Philomena and says, “That shit’s not anti-Catholic” (an actual quote that I just made up), then there’s no real argument for this accusation. In fact, even though the whole events of Philomena’s heartache was started by some very bad, very un-Jesus-like nuns, I didn’t think the film was being anti-Catholic in the least. The film wasn’t about showing the evils of the nuns, it was about Philomena’s journey and her finding solace and closure. Me thinks those who found anti-Catholic themes were missing the point of the film (and, thereby, missing great performances from Dench and Coogan) and are probably the same people who forget that Jesus teaches people to love each other and not use the Holy Book to stop people who love others from getting married.

You want anti-Catholic?  Well, take this!  Just look at that nun with all her nun-ness...
that's all I got.

Philomena is Best Picture material and with its heart-string-plucking story and inspirational performances, it should have been a front runner. And even though the Academy ultimately passed on the film, it proved to be an amazing story and a film that is capable of making you cry like the family dog just died and make you smile like you just got a new family dog.

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