Skip to content

Philomena by Stephen Frears

March 3, 2014


An unerring champion of classic filmmaking Stephen Frears turns once again for inspiration to a true story with Philomena, the tale of an Irish woman who in her later years has decided to find out what happened to the out of wedlock son that as a youngster she was forced to abandon when she lived in a convent run by evil Catholic nuns: Magdalene Sisters territory? yes but Frears is a much subtler director than Peter Mullan so while the description of the absurd system of power run by the Catholic Church is exposed in all of his craziness, the film centre gravitates around Philomena’s quest and her unlikely companion, a journalist willing to exploit her story hoping it will help him to rebound from an unlucky career move, in a certain way they have something in common: they both have been failed by the system of power ruling their lives.


Except for the bad idea of intersecting home video footage of Philomena’s son throughout the film Frears delivers a poignant story with multiple layers, the development of the relationship between Philomena (Judy Dench) and Martin (Steve Coogan) may be conventional and kind of expected for this genre of film but Frears uses it as a way to explore our controversial connection to the world of media: exploitation for sure, but it is a fact that without the money and the expertise provided by Martin and his employer Philomena’s quest would have been doomed in the beginning. The mystery of the faith is another point brilliantly delivered by Frears: Philomena has suffered at the hands of the Church, Martin has not, but Martin is the atheist while the injustice the Church has handed Philomena has not destroyed her faith, both of them will slightly adjust their vision of life during their common voyage – the college educated guy learning a lesson or two by the old uneducated lady may sound like trite material but Frears manages to make it sound good and real -the fact that the two characters spend a lot of screen time together certainly helps to make their relationship a believable one, just like in every voyage Philomena and Martin are not only searching for Anthony, the voyage is a way to shed light on their life so to achieve a clearer understanding of it. There is a lot of humour here and frequent changes of tone and pace, in the realm of classic filmmaking Philomena sounds like an ideal Frank Capra story but the way Frears delivers it it has a lot of Billy Wilder in it, though the degree of  accomplishment may not be at that level.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

Inside BlackBerry

The Official BlackBerry Blog

Geometry & Silence

Photography by Quintin Lake

Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Karzan Kardozi

Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through, and be silent.

The Next Thing

Thoughts On Visual Culture

Cubanito en Cuba

Desde La Habana, Cuba

The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Remote Access

with George

Benefits of a Classical Education

You know, from Die Hard?

The Happy Hermit

Andreas Moser traveling around the world and writing about it.

%d bloggers like this: