Philomena

Finished Philomena some time back, I find the film to be very interesting. There were several scenes that established and showcased the gulf between the two main characters’ background, the snobbish and highly intelligent Martin Sixsmith played by Steve Coogan and the polite and simple-minded title character, Philomena played by Judi Dench. My favourite scene was that at the airport where Philomena was explaining to the often sarcastic Sixsmith about the book she had just finished reading. It set the tone for the story which manages to be both moving and feels real because it is emotional but yet not overly sentimental, dwelling not too long on what could otherwise be very dramatic scenes in the hands of another director which would have lost its relatable aspect to the audience. Even the part where they informed Judi Dench’s character that her dead son was gay, she did not appear shocked. Sixsmith had to check whether she really understood what that meant because he had expected her to be surprised. But the real surprise was when she said that she already knew he was gay, even when he’s 3 years old. That gave real depth to her credibility as a mother and made the audience sympathise how much better her son’s life would have been if he was under her care all these while instead of being under a violent and homophobic father. And her words towards the end when she forgave the nuns for deliberately keeping her and her son away from each other, really highlights her character’s depth and strength. She forgives the nun because she thinks it is exhausting to be consumed with anger all the time. Forgiveness is indeed harder than to hate. All in all, a great piece of performance showcase from Judi Dench, it’s nice to see her in a more friendly and affable role rather than a strict and more domineering one like M in Skyfall or The Queen in Shakespeare In Love though she’s a perfectly capable actress of portraying both extremes.

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