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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."

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Compelling, poignant and gently funny.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.