This is one of those movies that would fall apart in less capable hands. But directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, the modest Philomena is a real treat. It’s based on a true story of a woman who reveals a long-held secret: When she was a teenager, she gave her son up for adoption. Journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) picks up the story and travels with Philomena (Dench) to Washington, D.C., where she hopes to pick up a paper trail on her son. Again, this is pretty simple stuff and most movies along these lines don’t try to do much of anything with it. But Frears is a master—The Queen, The Grifters, Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity—and Judi Dench is Judi Dench. The real surprise is Coogan, the great English comedian who co-wrote the script and tones it down to great effect here.



  • Stephen Frears


  • Judi Dench
  • Steve Coogan
  • Michelle Fairley
  • Barbara Jefford
  • Anna Maxwell Martin
  • Mare Winningham
  • Sophie Kennedy Clark
  • Peter Hermann
  • Ruth McCabe


  • Gabrielle Tana
  • Steve Coogan
  • Tracey Seaward
  • Henry Normal
  • Christine Langan
  • Cameron McCracken
  • François Ivernel
  • Carolyn Blackwood

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