Philomena ★★★½

Like the title character, Philomena is sweet, charming, sometimes funny, yet sometimes sad. While it's completely aware of the real world, it never wallows in negativity. Even at the saddest moments, Philomena never allows herself to succumb to cynicism.

After a slow and meandering start, the film quickly finds its stride and becomes more interesting and compelling as it goes on. As unlikely as they are, Judi Dench and Steve Coogan make a terrific pair. The Oscar buzz behind Dench is entirely justified. The way they bounce off each other is a joy to watch I could've watched these two interact for another hour.

What also impressed me about this film was the way it handled its religious themes. It has a balanced portrayal of christianity vs atheism, which is refreshing to see nowadays. It never condemns no puts it's characters on a pedestal for their beliefs. It allows the viewer to make his or her own decision on whether or not the characters are right or wrong.

Overall, Philomena is a film that I have no trouble in recommending to anyone. It's accessible to everyone and it's hard to imagine someone not being charmed by Dench's performance.

Rating; 3.5 stars out of 4.

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