Brendan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This film was an absolute delight. With inspiring performances from both Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, they brought to life the journey of two damaged individuals who together grow and uncover the often harrowing truth of what happened to Philomena and her lost son Anthony.
The screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope was a revelation, equal parts nuanced and wittily funny and almost always hitting those much needed emotional beats. This is a film that could have easily fallen into the territory of emotional manipulation that these 'human interest' pieces often can, but with an amazing screenplay and a masterful job from director Stephen Frears it avoided such treacherous waters with grace.
The film definitely does not paint the Catholic Church in a flattering light, almost to the point of seeming extreme bias. However, this is often countered when you realise that it is indeed a true story. Still, it could have benefitted from a stronger stance on the benefits of the faith if it desired to be seen as more objective. Other than this and some pacing towards the middle, one would be hard pressed to find any glaring faults with this gem.
Surely a contender at this years Oscars in performance and screenplay, Philomena is a must watch if you're seeking out the best 2013 has to offer.