Thomas McCallum’s review published on Letterboxd:
Performances : 8.1/10
Story : 7.2/10
Production : 7/10
Overall : 7.4/10
The thought of Steve Coogan in a dramatic role was very off-putting to me. I've seen him in far too many brilliant comedic roles, so I assumed seeing him without the yucks just wouldn't work. I was completely wrong. Coogan looks extremely comfortable playing a detached journalist slowly learning to care about his human interest (piece).
Oh yeah, Judi Dench is in this movie as well. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Just her usual air or dignified grace playing a woman searching for her long lost son.
The story was warm, heartbreaking and very touching. It's well paced, flying by almost in the way that a thriller would. There was something missing, and while I can't put my finger on it I suspect it was satisfaction at the end. Half way through it's run time, Philomena reveals that it's not exactly about the pursuit of happiness. It's about the search for truth, no matter what pain it might bring.
All in all this is a wonderful film. It's well acted and it's well told. It's also sad. Sometimes that's just how life is.