Critics Consensus

Based on a powerful true story and led by note-perfect performances from Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, Philomena offers a profoundly affecting drama for adult filmgoers of all ages.



Total Count: 195


Audience Score

User Ratings: 52,351
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Movie Info

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 (Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son. (c) Weinstein


Judi Dench
as Philomena Lee
Steve Coogan
as Martin Sixsmith
Sophie Kennedy Clark
as Young Philomena
Ruth McCabe
as Mother Barbara
Barbara Jefford
as Sister Hildegarde
Michelle Fairley
as Sally Mitchell
Peter Hermann
as Pete Olsson
Kate Fleetwood
as Young Sister Hildegarde
Sean Mahon
as Michael
Wunmi Mosaku
as Young Nun
Amy McCallister
as Sister Anunciata
Rita Hamill
as Nursery Nun
Tadhg Bowen
as Young Anthony
Saoirse Bowen
as Young Mary
Harrison D'Ampney
as Anthony (8-10 Years)
Simone Lahbib
as Kate Sixsmith
Sara Stewart
as Marcia Weller
Nicholas Jones
as Dr. Robert
Marie Jones
as Barman's Mum
Vaughn Joseph
as Receptionist Hotel
Shug Fisher
as Omelette Chef
Florence Keith-Roach
as Check In Operator
George Michael Rados
as Priest In Church
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News & Interviews for Philomena

Critic Reviews for Philomena

All Critics (195) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (176) | Rotten (19)

  • 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.

    Dec 22, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It's smart and unsweetened.

    Dec 10, 2013 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Nov 28, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • We wouldn't care about any of this if the performances were weak. But both actors find complexity and depth.

    Nov 27, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • At its core, this clever, wrenching, profound story underscores the tenacity of faith in the face of unfathomable cruelty.

    Nov 27, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Nov 27, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Philomena

  • Jul 07, 2019
    Loved this film to bits!
    Serge E Super Reviewer
  • May 27, 2017
    an alternative to the magdalene sisters. i was struglling to envision steeve coogan in a serious role and much to my surprise he wasnt very serious at all which, to the film-maker's credit, worked just fine. judi dench as usual was a force in of herself which leant creedence to the seriousness in which this story must be taken. most poignant was the affect the two characters had on each other.
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • May 29, 2015
    A woman in her 60s recruits the help of a disgraced journalist to find her son she was forced to give up for adoption as a teenager by the nuns who ran the orphanage she lived in. Engrossing and the discoveries follow an unpredictable path in this true-life story, with a completely unexpected and welcome injection of humor throughout. Both Judi Dench and Steve Coogan are marvelous in their roles playing people with very different outlooks on life, particularly with regards to religion, yet united with commonness of purpose. Worth seeking out and deservedly earned Oscar nominations for Dench, picture, original music, and the adapted screenplay.
    Doctor S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2014
    Often the film becomes a bit too heavy handed, especially in the flashbacks, but when the focus is on the odd and effective pairing of Coogan and Dench its more grounded in real substance and becomes rather moving.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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