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Philomena Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Guilt Trip 2013, now with fewer jokes Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Mr. Coogan, lavishly talented as a comic, and a comic actor, is fairly monotonous in the mostly serious role he wrote for himself. That leaves Ms. Dench to carry the picture, which she does, up to a point, with her usual delicacy and grace.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Variety Justin Chang

    It’s an undeniable whopper of a yarn and, coming after a string of middling efforts from Frears, easily the director’s most compulsively watchable picture since “The Queen."

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Compelling, poignant and gently funny.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Bill Zwecker

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    Time Mary Corliss

    Getting full comic effect from its class-comedy abrasions, Philomena rises to poignancy and profundity as Dench reveals her control of a character stained by the loss of her child and troubled by her suspicion.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Deborah Young

    Stephen Frears is in full possession of his filmmaking talent in Philomena, one of his most pulled-together dramas in years.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Philomena reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 15+

Smart, wrenching, deeply moving drama fine for older teens.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Philomena is a moving, gracefully filmed drama that's somewhat teen-friendly, though younger teens may find the subjects -- teen pregnancy resulting in a traumatic stay at a nunnery, deep religious guilt, death from AIDS, abandonment, and guilt -- quite heavy. Expect some infrequent swearing, including one "f--k."

  • Families can talk about why Philomena kept her story for so long and why she decided to share it decades later. Why does she respond to the nuns the way she chooses to in the end? What is the ultimate message of the movie?
  • Does the film shed light on any real-life injustices you didn't know about before? What do you think of what happened to Philomena?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: Guilt will devour you if you let it. Instead, consider forgiving yourself, which can lead you to forgive others who have wronged you. Also, persistence pays off. And there is always an option for a second (or third) act in life.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Philomena is an interesting lead, harboring a secret she finds shameful but still giving, honest, inquisitive, adventurous, and, important considering the situation, brave. Martin may be more cagey and cynical, but in the end, he acts out of a generosity in spirit.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Some scenes of a teenager being held down brusquely while giving birth, spoken to by nuns who are ostensibly helping her with little compassion.

  • sex false2

    Sex: References to a girl meeting a boy at a fair and having sex, but we see nothing more than kissing in flashbacks. A brief discussion about female genitals, bisexuality, and homosexuality.

  • language false3

    Language: Some choice words, including "s--t" and "f--k," though they're used rarely.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: A Sony Vaio is prominently displayed in one scene, a Guinness in another. Also, a discussion about BMW cars (the logo is also visible) as well as a Mazda.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Fairly frequent drinking, usually beer but also hard liquor, in pubs and parties.

Fan Reviews provided by


Virtuoso Work of Art by Bbrothen
A two character movie with deeply poignant and intelligent pathos and humor. Steve Coogan was one of the two starring actors, co-wrote the screen play and was the Executive Producer. He deserves our ever lasting gratitude for his brilliance. Judi Dench was as good as I have ever seen her in a movie or on the stage. Do I have to say any more about her or him in this film ? Do I have to say anymore about this movie ?


Another cover up by the Catholic Church; award winning performances by Tom494
Brilliant performances by the lead actress and actor. Another chilling expose on the activities of the Catholic church about their history of power, control and greed.


Philomena by helenevictor
This was a wonderful movie. Judi Dench was Philomena with all the emotions and real feelings of a heartbroken mother and a brainwashed Catholic. I cried and laughed and forgot my own life. The cinematography was done well with pictures of Ireland and Washington to set the mood. It is definitely not for kids. It is a true story which makes it more enjoyable.


Bring the Kleenex by kimykennedy
Very much enjoyed the story. Those nuns! Good nuns and very evil horrible nuns. Holy cow. Philomena chose to be happy instead of harboring anger. love it.


Philomena by CharlieMc26
Terrific story line and so well portrayed. From opening scenes attention was riveted to the movie. Acting was top rated and it was easy to maintain interest. my wife and I plan on returning to see it a second time. Scenes were well done and and really gave you the feeling it was real time Garlic and Gaelic :-)


Philomena by pwiedl
I enjoyed this movie very much. It had a lot of twists that surprised me--not the ending that I expected. The acting was excellent--I believed that the actors were the characters that they were portraying. This is a great movie for adults--not for kids--they wouldn't understand a lot of it. And it is a good movie for both male and female attendees.


Honest emotion, surprising humor--a story of tragedy redeemed by strength of character by linda_branam
Others have given the plot, so I won't. Rather I'll praise the performances of everyone from principal actors to supporting cast. All pitch perfect. Dench and Coogan (who discovered the real-life story and co-authored the excellent script) play off one another in perfectly modulated, underplayed synchronicity. Coogan's somewhat cruel cynicism is moderated by a dawning respect for Dench's slightly dotty yet steely "little old lady." Truly spot-on witty asides pepper a story that is at heart an almost unbearable tragedy. Yet the predominant mood of exiting viewers at the showing I attended was of smiling bemusement. Kudos to director Stephen Frears for achieving this knife-edge balance. Excellent film--more than worthy of the Oscar nominations. A must-see!


Philomena is a "Must Go!" by mikeesposito1019
My wife, daughter and I saw Philomena on Saturday and all three of us found it to be a moving, thoughtful, and engaging movie. Indeed, afterwards we went on the internet to research many of the places and people referenced in the movie, like Philomena's long lost son. What a wonderful movie!


Great Story, Great Acting by NewZooReviewToo
I was afraid Philomena was going to be depressing given the subject but it wasn't at all. Judi Dench is great, giving an awesome performance even when she doesn't have dialog. The pace of the movie was very good...I didn't look at my watch once!


Philomenia by bobboehmer
Bravo to Judith Dench, she was wonderful as usual. Based on a true story, you get see how nasty the Catholic church was. Glad the story was told. Don't miss it.