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Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock - something her Irish-Catholic community didn't have the highest opinion of - and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn't allow for any sort of inquiry into the son's whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"What at first seems formulaic comedy gains a deeper resonance as we see how they represent two responses to cruelty and injustice -- first outrage, and with time, eventually, forgiveness."
‑ Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail
"We wouldn't care about any of this if the performances were weak. But both actors find complexity and depth."
‑ Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
"Dench and Cooper could do this stuff in their sleep and keep us entertained, which they do, but it's the nuanced twists and turns in both the characters and the story that elevate the picture beyond the familiar."
‑ Richard Knight, Windy City Times
"Be not fooled by the marketing materials, which make the film look like an aged-up version of The Trip with Judi Dench in place of Rob Brydon. Philomena is a terrifically made, entertaining work."
‑ Lee Zachariah, Concrete Playground
"Equal parts uplifting tearjerker, odd-couple comedy, and righteous screed against abuse of power in the name of religion"
‑ James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk
"It's smart and unsweetened."
‑ Wesley Morris, Grantland
"At its core, this clever, wrenching, profound story underscores the tenacity of faith in the face of unfathomable cruelty."
‑ Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
"I'd be a grouch to call the two leads anything but delightful, and they both stretch in directions you mightn't expect."
‑ Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive
"Dench is brilliant as the adult Philomena. In spite of her generally outgoing appearance there is a sadness behind her eyes born of five decades of heartbreak."
‑ Michael A. Smith, MediaMikes
"It's a film with depth, tackling big issues while managing to be an immensely personal story at the same time."
‑ Matt Neal, The Standard
"Even as Philomena embraces the expected feel-good dynamics, it avoids taking the usual path and doesn't paint all of the "evil" nuns with the same brush."
‑ Peter Howell, Toronto Star
"Director Steven Frears deserves special mention. A lesser filmmaker could so easily have turned this project into mushy, sentimental junk. The tear-jerking moments here are heartfelt and real. It's the kind of filmmaking we see too little of today."
‑ Bill Zwecker, Chicago Sun-Times
"Director Frears handles the story with enough dramatic weight and light comic fare to make "Philomena" a sweet and very compelling human tale..."
‑ Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
"Despite the glum subject, Coogan and Dench raise plenty of smiles as the unlikeliest of couples."
‑ David Edwards, Daily Record [UK]
"Earns its heartwarming-ness honestly, with Dench and Coogan mouthing the dialogue with utter believability."
‑ Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
More reviews for Philomena on Rotten Tomatoes