First Hit: Outstanding in every sense of the word.
Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) has lost his job with the government because of an incorrect story attributed to him.
Being a former BBC journalist, he’s going to go back to writing. He’s got an air of arrogance of self-importance because of his previous positions with the government and the BBC. While at a party an editor asks if he’s interested in writing a human interest story and if so please contact her. He scoffs at this. A server from the same party speaks with him about writing about her mom Philomena (Judi Dench) as a way to find out the truth about the child that was taken from her at an early age by Catholic nuns.
He decides to meet Philomena. She tells Martin the story of how she lost her child, Antony, while at a convent in England. As he listens to the story you can see him slowly become engaged. I won’t give the story away here because the film does a superb job of sharing this information, but it is enough to say the nuns aren’t necessarily Jesus like in their actions.
The film has multiple levels: There are the differences between Philomena and Martin in their beliefs in God and religion. There is the difference between the importance of a human interest story and its impact on things. Martin was use to big and important stories.
There is the difference around what is private and public. In all cases Martin and Philomena both learned a lot about each other, life and the truth. Lastly, there is the bigger picture of will this human interest film be as interesting as a bigger, action based, blockbuster film?
The writing in this film is phenomenal while the acting razor sharp, on target and terrific. Pulling this all together was director Stephen Frears who knew how to tell this story.
Dench is spot on perfect and amazing. Coogan, likewise was incredible as the world-weary writer finding new life in human interest narratives. Coogan and Jeff Pope wrote an elegant story with great characters. And as previously mentioned Frears directed this story and cast with elegance.
Overall: Oscar worthy on all accounts.