Philomena ★★★½

Big improvement for Stephen Frears after a string of relative duffers, this cinematic "human interest story" balances comedy and pathos efficiently, making using of a committed Judi Dench in the lead. As an Irishwoman shamed into giving up her son whilst a teenager, Dench effortlessly flits between fish out of water lightness and tangible heartbreak, bouncing off a game and convicted Steve Coogan in the process. The ending is pretty great, the rest merely solidly crafted, but it's always fairly engaging. Issues of faith and integrity are organically woven into the script, even if the movie never provides any sweeping insights.