Saturday, 1 March 2014

Evil Nuns

What happens when you put M and Alan Partridge on a journey into the past? Well who knows, but this is as close as we will get for now. This is Philomena.

Based on a true story of a disgraced politician, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) who, when he gets the sack, looks back at doing some journalism work. What he stumbles across is a human interests piece in the form of Philomena (Judie Dench), a little old Irish lady, who had her child taken from her by the nuns that were her guardians. The article becomes a thrilling thought to Martin. Evil nuns, a searching mother, a lost child, a tale spanning 50 years. It has everything needed for a successful story and so the pair set off, first to Ireland and then on to America to find the lost Anthony. But the tale is not simple, having to fight against dead ends and unhelpful sources, but can the two find what they are after - a reunion between mother and son?

'Bond, you look different'

What happens when you combine two of Britain's finest talents in a film together? Philomena, and it is splendid. Steve Coogan, who also wrote the film with Jeff Hope, does a wonderful job portraying Sixsmith as a cynical, world-weary fellow who just wants his story. Well, until half way into the film when we see his human side develop a little bit more. And Dame Judie Dench, the faultless Judie Dench (we will forget Chronicles of Riddick) as the delightful, yet somewhat grating, Philomena. But it is neither part is a solo act; this whole film is about the relationship of the two characters. Philomena, a simple woman with a lot of faith. Martin, a master with words that likes to investigated the complex. The two clash and collide but it makes for a seriously entertaining film. Laughs are often constructed by Sixsmith's annoyance of everything around him, tears are often wrenched by Philomena tugging on your heartstrings. It is a two person show, and by gosh, do they show. 

What a chairful couple.

A truly wonderful script by Coogan and Hope, brought to life masterfully by Stephen Frears. But it is the screenplay that stands out. As previously stated, this is a film about relationships, which are built on communication. From opening to close, there are lines that should be quoted again and again. Some notable moments are often about faith. The question of 'do you believe in God' gets thrown in there, to which Martin rambles for a while and finishes stating that there is no easy answer, then asks Philomena who gives a simple yes. And suddenly the characters are so clear in such a simple conversation, which is the mastery of writing for the screen. A brilliant achievement, and nominated around the board in recognition.  

Listed as a comedy, but still very much a tale told for the heart. It is exceedingly funny, but with enough sincerity that it never loses its power as a strong story.

Best Bit? The pair are in an airport discussing their books. Philomena begins to explain her book. I can guarantee that every audience goer will be able to identify with Martin's face as she goes on about horses. Realistic and hilarious.