Hunter’s review published on Letterboxd:
Seeing Philomena a second time was a wonderful treat, one that seems difficult for dramas to manage. It is a testament to the power of this strong woman's story.
Yes, I would call Philomena a strong woman, but not in the way of the usual Hollywood "strong independent woman" archetype. Those sorts of characters often feel false to me; Philomena (aside from being a real woman) was genuine. She could be stubborn or swayed, knew what she wanted regardless, and walks around this movie carrying a secret that she has held for fifty years, only recently releasing it. She is such an excellent image of the kind of peace that forgiveness can bring.
Martin Sixsmith, the atheist journalist who accompanies Philomena (I love that name!) on her journey to discover the 50-year old son she gave up from birth, functions as an interesting contrast. He is cynical where she is wide-eyed, and the two yield some interesting (and balanced, surprisingly) discussions about God, forgiveness, etc. The script juggles these sticky topics deftly, and I think that this played a large part in its popularity at this year's Oscars. That, plus the fact that the film is very well acted, well directed, and well photographed.
Simply, it's a great story, told with the kind of proficiency that is all too lacking in so many true-story adaptations.