Philomena ★★★½

I meant to see Dallas Buyers Club, but got to the cinema late. So, I went into Philomena, knowing nothing about it and thinking (unjustly) that it would be just another quirky indie movie, maybe move me a little. I mean, c'mon, just look at that yellow poster.

Well, I was surprised to say the least. Consistently surprised. The story, which is apparently mostly true, kept leading me in directions that I did not expect to go. Without going into any spoilers, what starts out as a movie about a mom looking for her long-lost son stays a story about a mom looking for her long-lost son. But, there is so much along the way that keeps it interesting, that I didn't expect!

What we've got here is an A-game film: Judi Dench gives a strong performance in the titular role, and Steve Coogan supports well. The writers deliver a fine script, surprisingly ripe with thoughtful conversations of God and people. And, director Stephen Frears does a very good job pacing the film with a blend of comedy and drama.

I was very moved not only by this woman's personal tragedies, but by her responses to them. Philomena comes recommended, indeed, and while I still want to see Dallas Buyers Club, this was a very pleasant detour.

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