Driving Miss Philomena
Stephen Frears' film of Philomena, from Steve Coogan's co-written screenplay (he's also the second hand of what is basically a two actor piece) feels awfully precious in the viewing, even if the story, overall, is a fascinating detective story about faith and family, over the repressive dictates of a religion giving lip-service to both.
Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) is an ex-reporter, recently exited from Tony Blair's Labour government over an internal squabble. At a loss over what to do next, and considering writing a history of Russia (which meets with indifference whenever mentioned), he's approached at a party by a bar-maid, who tells him the story of her mother, Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), who has been searching fruitlessly for the whereabouts of her son, born fifty years earlier. Lee was a good Catholic girl who got pregnant, and her Irish father, in anger and shame and for bringing dishonor to the family, gave her to the nuns of the Rose Crea Abbey for the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who put her to work, delivered her child, provided an orphanages for that child and required Philomena to work for the nuns for the next four years to repay her debt.
But, nobody is acting too excited about that Russian history.
* It's a movie for "blue hairs" at the matinee, and aspires to nothing more. But, the performances are terrific, the story interesting, and Frears' direction serviceable, except for some lily-gilding of flash-backs and other things that might be in the service of "over-explaining."
Of all the Best Picture nominees, this is the one that feels a bit out of place.
|Dame Judi Dench and Philomena Lee