Brandon’s review published on Letterboxd:
Philomena is a sweet, touching story that is acted very well by its two leads, Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. Despite its dramatic story, it's more than likely a better read than a watch. The story is something that you should definitely be aware of, but it would probably be more beneficial if you read about it rather than watching it.
For what it's worth, the film does its best to tell the story of the aging mother who has looked for her son for the past 50 years to no avail. When a journalist decides to tell the story, Philomena and Martin travel across the globe in search for Philomena's son. Along the way, the film addresses topics that defy the beliefs of the Catholic Church. The film is very anti-anagogical. It openly accepts homosexual relationships and is full of "evil nuns" who sell the children of mother's of the convent who broke their vows, refusing to ever reveal their location. At one point, Martin says the line, "Fucking Catholics". For a low budget film coming from the BBC, some of the anti-Catholicism comes as a bit of a surprise and a big risk in terms of attracting a broad audience. But you got to do what you got to do when it comes to telling a story about true events, so I don't have a problem with the choices.
As I said earlier, the acting is essential to the film's success. Judi Dench as Philomena is very emotionally perplexed with her search for her son, and the struggles she goes through along the way turn into a very notable performance. Sorry though Judi, you're chances of winning the Oscar over Cate Blanchett are below zero. The nomination is much deserved though. Steve Coogan is entertaining in his role as Martin, though some of the jokey dialogue he leaves himself with is a little unnecessary for the dramatic story.
The bottom line is that Philomena is a good film that tells a story that you should definitely make yourself aware of. The script is nothing spectacular and you might find the material offensive at times. It is definitely not for everyone, but I found it to be a good drama. Watch it for Dench's performance if nothing else.