Thursday, 7 November 2013
I'm completely baffled by the artwork from which I'd deduce that Philomena was a quirky, feel-good comedy ... wouldn't you?
I was lukewarm about going to see this, I admit. I'd seen too many trailers, knew the story inside out, trawled through too many old newspaper stories, flicked through the clunkily-written book - and reached saturation point with Irish misery lit after The Magdalene Sisters.
But Judi Dench has an irresistible pull - and Philomena turned out to be heartbreaking, funny and (mostly) admirably restrained. It's a gripping journalistic story, although the film stops short of turning over the murky stones that make real-life too harrowing - for the tragic, self-destructive story of Philomena's son, you'll have to read the book or the newspapers. (I don't think the mostly geriatric audience pushing and shoving to get into the cinema yesterday afternoon really wanted to know. I tripped over three walking sticks trying to get out through the scrum ... haven't seen a 2pm cinema queue for a long time.)
Steve Coogan, to my surprise, is terrific. Suffice to say that not for a second did I find myself wondering why Dame Judi was off on a road trip with Alan Partridge.
Academy award for best actress? Probably.