Philomena: Queen Judi Approximately

by Ethan Alter November 22, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Philomena</i>: Queen Judi Approximately

As if we needed one, Philomena gives us all yet another reason to praise Judi Dench, the Grand Dame of contemporary British cinema and an actress capable of elevating even the most predictable material (see last year's geriatric hit, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Based on a bestselling non-fiction book that chronicles a fascinating, troubling piece of recent Irish history, Philomena is far from predictable, at least in terms of its narrative. Tonally, however, the film strives a little too hard to fit into the British tradition of tearjerkers that tackle difficult material with a light touch -- think movies like Made in Dagenham, Marigold Hotel or Quartet. These films seek to explore serious emotional terrain, but can't resist underlying every dramatic beat with a bit of comedy lest the audience's collective stiff upper lip starts quivering too much.

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