Does what it says on the tin...
, 17 Nov 2013
The problem I have with a lot of trailers these days is that the movie tends to get given away in those measly three minutes. Not as much fun taking a trip to the cinema when you already know how its going to end. Granted, most films these days are predictable anyway, but some level of mystery is always nice. Annoyingly, theres very little mystery in the trailer of Philomena; the entire movie is summed up with three simple words: human interest story. Lets be fair, though. When youve got Stephen Frears, Judi Dench and Coogan working on the same film together, it would be ridiculous to expect anything else. Philomena is an out-and-out human interest story, seeped in sentimentality and designed purely to tug at the heartstrings and send the audience home with a smile on their face and a tear in their eye. And, for the most part, its relatively successful. Its difficult not to be moved by the story of Philomena Lee (Dench), the middle-aged woman searching for the son taken away from her because she was pregnant out of wedlock. Its an emotional story, requiring the sort of emotional performance that someone like Judi Dench is brilliant at giving. She doesnt disappoint, either, obviously. Able to move between melancholy and humour seamlessly, Dench is a joy to watch. Her comic timing has always been impeccable, and she gets ample opportunity to showcase that here. But theres a slight problem everyone else in the film is just a little bit too boring. Coogans the main disappointment. I really like him, and think that hes still underappreciated as a serious actor. Philomena, though, isnt his greatest showcase. Its not that hes bad in it, because hes not; hes actually quite good. Its the character of journalist Martin Sixsmith which lets him down Coogan does the best he can, but its so utterly one-dimensional. The character doesnt really change much over the course of the film, beyond evolving from caring a little bit to caring quite a bit. Hardly the stuff of scripting genius. The writing as a whole is pretty average and, funnily enough, Coogan was responsible for that too. It has its moments (the jokes are good, as youd expect from a Coogan script), but it relies on overdone cliché and sentiment instead of trying something new. Again, its not awful. Its just...okay. I didnt find myself emotionally engaged enough, though it does pick up in the final third. The climax of the movie is genuinely moving, and the sweet little twist at the end was just good enough to leave me satisfied. Philomena is, by and large, a good film. A great story, a fantastic central performance, and an ending which does bring that smile and that tear. I only wish that the rest of the film was more emotionally engaging, and the rest of the cast better-developed. Jim Loachs Oranges And Sunshine explores very similar themes, and is a far better watch, in my opinion. But, hey, it doesnt have Alan Partridge and M in that.
- Was this review helpful to you?
(0) Yes |