7:00 PM, 29th March, 2014
Philomena Lee, a young girl gives birth to a boy out of wedlock in Ireland. An Irish-Catholic, she is forced to give the child up for adoption when the boy is three years old and to sign a contract ruling out any inquiry into his whereabouts.
50 years later Philomena’s daughter, from the family she later had in England, meets BBC reporter Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) who is looking for a story to pursue after losing his job as a Government adviser. He meets the older Philomena (Dench) and, although human interest stories are not his thing, decides to help search for the boy given up for adoption. The search takes them to the US where Sixsmith uses contacts he made as a journalist.
The story takes some unexpected turns before the search is resolved.
Judi Dench’s film and TV performances are keenly anticipated by film lovers and admirers of the British actress. In this film, more than ably complemented by Coogan, an increasingly versatile actor, she does not disappoint.
8:48 PM, 29th March, 2014
Lil (Watts) and Roz (Wright) have been friends since childhood (as shown in the opening scene). Lil is a widow, and Roz’s husband Harold (Mendelsohn) is a drama teacher. Both have strapping young adult sons – Ian (Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville). All live in a small NSW coastal town, in beautiful idyllic houses with great beach views and access (although Harold is frequently on Sydney jaunts). The paradise-like nature of their existence, however, is dramatically changed with one significant incident, and from that point on, the relationships are infinitely more complicated and hard to balance.
The story by Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) tries to steer us through a confrontational situation rarely covered in film (particularly mainstream fare). It challenges your thinking, to consider a situation not in terms of norms and morals, but in terms of consequences and motivations. In the past, Watts has reserved her best performances for international movies, but this is well and truly her best acting role in an Australian production. Mendelsohn also adds dramatic poignancy as the husband in the dark.
If you prefer your movies to be more clear-cut and life-affirming, then The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is screening somewhere later down the track this semester, and I would steer you towards it. If, however, you enjoy a more cerebral and thought-provoking experience, then I recommend this movie for you.