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TIFF 2013 Review: Philomena


In 2004 Philomena Lee along with BBC reporter Martin Sexsmith set off to find Philomena’s son, who was taken from her fifty years before. In Stephen Frears’ film, the two are portrayed wonderfully by veterans Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. Sixsmith is a recently shunned reporter who has a policy of steering clear of “human interest” pieces, but after meeting Philomena in person, he cannot resist trying to help her. Their journey takes them across the globe; to the United States, and back to the church where Philomena’s son was taken from her. The journey with Martin and Philomena is a bittersweet one. Hearing Philomena regretfully describe her young adult hood can at times be depressing, but at other times Dench is so charming in the role that you will find yourself howling with laughter. Just thinking back to the way Dench eagerly pronounces the word “condoms” in the film makes me chuckle. Frears’ direction is tight and to the point, he never lets the film sway off course, and always makes sure to balance the drama with comedy. The film is worth seeing for Dench’s performance alone, one that is sure to gather her hoards of nominations, come awards season.

Sunday September 8 – Princess of Wales – 3:30 PM
Monday September 9 – Visa Screening Room (Elgin) – 11:00 AM

[star v=4]

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.