Many dramatic fi lms take themselves incredibly seriously. Films like Lincoln and The Butler, which have their merits, are hampered by a suffocating level of seriousness. In real life, there is usually humor even amidst the struggles and heartbreaks of life.
tells the story of a retired nurse (Judi Dench) who searches for the son she was forced to give up after her ashamed family shipped her off to a Catholic Churchrun facility. The "sinful" women worked in sweatshop conditions while the nuns sold their babies and kept the profi ts. Sadly, this is all based on a true story (look it up).
The odious behavior of the church could have made for a scathing, muckraking fi lm. But while Philomena has moments of intense sadness, it works because of the relationship between Dench and the journalist (co-writer Steve Coogan) she enlists to help fi nd her son. The contrast of chatty Philomena's optimistic view of human nature and steadfast faith in a higher power and Coogan's dour skepticism generates a lot of laughs. And the fi lm doesn't position either character as "right" or "wrong."
Fans of thoughtful, funny, character-based fi lms should give this one a look.