Philomena ★★★★

The combination of an assured, old hand in the director's chair, a smart and consistently light and witty screenplay co-written by its male star, and two lead performances that mold beautifully together, help make Philomena a film that never falls into the holes of over-dramatization and sentimentality.

Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope adapted the real-life account from Martin Sixsmith's book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, and what I appreciated most from their screenplay is its insistence on adding welcome humor to the mostly bleak subject matter. And although it is Dench who is getting all of the acclaim from the movie on the acting end, Coogan is every bit as good here and actually brings forth some new elements we've never seen him display before. The chemistry the two share is warm and seemingly effortless in its ability to keep us invested in the journey all the way.

Stephen Frears has made several films that I absolutely adore, but he was on a bit of a dull stretch before Philomena came along. It's his best work since The Queen.

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