Experience the heart-wrenching and inspiring tale of ‘Philomena,’ a moving film that takes you on an emotional journey as Philomena Lee, accompanied by journalist Martin Sixsmith, unravels the secrets of her past and searches for the son she lost, touching on themes of love, faith, and the unbreakable mother-child bond.
Shown: 7 February 2024
Exminster Film Club Rating 91%
Date of release: 2013
Running time: 1h 38m
Director: Stephen Frears
Writers: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope & Martin Sixsmith
A 2013 drama film directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. The story is based on real events and the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” by Martin Sixsmith.
The film revolves around the emotional journey of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), an Irish woman who, as a teenager, gave birth to a son out of wedlock. Her family sends her to a convent, where she is forced to give up her child for adoption. For decades, Philomena keeps this secret but eventually decides to search for her lost son.
In her quest, she is aided by Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a former journalist who has been disgraced and is looking for a human-interest story. Together, they embark on a journey to the United States to find Philomena’s long-lost son. The search uncovers painful truths about the Catholic Church’s adoption practices and the life her son has led.
“Philomena” is a moving exploration of forgiveness, faith, and the enduring bond between a mother and her child. It combines elements of drama and comedy as it delves into themes of love, loss, and the power of human connection. The film received critical acclaim for its powerful performances and poignant storytelling.
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.
It’s profoundly moving and thoroughly mind provoking, but despite the poignant subject matter, I promise you will not leave Philomena depressed. I’ve seen it twice and felt exhilarated, informed, enriched, absorbed and optimistic both times.
Step into the enchanting world of ‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,’ a captivating film that follows the extraordinary journey of Ada Harris, a London cleaning woman, as she pursues her dream of owning a Christian Dior dress in post-World War II Paris. Join Ada on her transformative adventure filled with friendship and the timeless allure of fashion.
Shown: 3 January 2024
Exminster Film Club Rating 91%
Date of release: 2022
Running time: 1h 55m
Director: Anthony Fabian
Writers: Paul Gallico, Carroll Cartwright & Anthony Fabian
A 2022 British-American drama film directed by Anthony Fabian. The story is based on the novel of the same name by Paul Gallico. The film follows the life of Ada Harris (played by Lesley Manville), a widowed cleaning woman in post-World War II London. Ada’s mundane existence takes a dramatic turn when she becomes enamoured with a Christian Dior dress she sees in a customer’s closet. Determined to own such a dress, Ada embarks on a journey to Paris, encountering numerous obstacles and heart-warming moments along the way.
With the support of her friends and newfound allies, including a French fashion designer (Isabelle Huppert), Ada strives to make her dream a reality. “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” is a tale of resilience, friendship, and the transformative power of fashion, highlighting the pursuit of one’s dreams and the unexpected adventures that can ensue when taking bold steps. The film explores themes of self-discovery and the universal desire for beauty and elegance.
Not to gush or go too far overboard, but the warmth of a movie like “Mrs. Harris” is downright restorative in the viewing, two escapist hours that remind us that everyone is entitled to courtesy, a fair shake and a little beauty and luxury, and most of all, the hope that life can get better.
In London, an award-winning film-maker documents her best friend’s journey into an assisted marriage in line with his family’s Pakistani heritage. In the process, she challenges her own attitude towards relationships.
How do you find lasting love in today’s world? For documentary filmmaker Zoe (Lily James), swiping right to find Mr Right has only delivered bad dates and funny anecdotes, much to her opinionated mother Cath’s (Emma Thompson) dismay. For her childhood friend and neighbour Kazim (Shazad Latif), the answer is to follow his parents’ example and opt for an assisted marriage with a bright and beautiful bride from Pakistan. As Zoe films his hopeful journey from London to Lahore to marry a stranger, chosen by his parents, she begins to wonder if she might have something to learn from a different approach to finding love.
The tone is distinctly feelgood, but the film, directed by Shekhar Kapur, thoughtfully explores the different ways that relationships can be built, and what cultures can teach one another.
After a particularly harsh winter Brian goes into a deep depression; completely isolated and with no one to talk to, Brian does what any sane person would do when faced with such a melancholic situation. He builds a robot.
Brian and Charles follows Brian, a lonely inventor in rural Wales, who spends his days building quirky, unconventional contraptions that seldom work. Undeterred by his lack of success, Brian attempts his biggest project yet. Three days, a washing machine, and various spare parts later, he’s invented Charles, an artificially intelligent robot who learns English from a dictionary and has an obsession with cabbages. What follows is a humorous and entirely heartwarming story about friendship, family, finding love, and letting go.
If themes about the importance of friendship, hope, and love land a bit on the nose, there’s no denying Brian and Charles takes an innovative approach to delivering them, even if — see above — the tack is brazenly metaphorical. Yet its distinctive charms are resonant enough to offset a slender story in what nevertheless amounts to a sweet and earnest, modern-day fable.
It isn’t easy to develop a sketch-length idea into a feature film and not easy to pivot from ironic comedy into dark Straw Dogs-style menace, and then into a sweet-natured happy ending. But Earl, Hayward and Archer have managed it. It’s the bromance of the year.
Dream Alliance is an unlikely race horse bred by small-town Welsh bartender Jan Vokes. With no experience, Jan convinces her neighbours to chip in their meagre earnings to help raise Dream in the hopes he can compete with the racing elites.
Experience the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town bartender, Jan Vokes (Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream and compete with the racing elites. Their investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks and becomes a beacon of hope in their struggling community.
We can see every plot point rounding the turn long before the finish line, but that’s OK, because we’re having a (dare I say it) jolly grand time every step of the way.
Sure it’s hokey, but this fact-based crowd-pleaser starring a terrific Toni Collette as a struggling Welsh villager who risks everything on a racehorse she breeds and raises is an underdog story that works like a charm.
On the eve of retirement a middle class, judgmental snob discovers her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and is forced into exile with her bohemian sister who lives on an impoverished inner-city council estate.
When “Lady” Sandra Abbott discovers that her husband of 40 years is having an affair with her best friend, she seeks refuge in London with her estranged, older sister Bif. The two could not be more different – Sandra is a fish out of water next to her outspoken, serial dating, free-spirited sibling. But different is just what Sandra needs at the moment, and she reluctantly lets Bif drag her along to a community dance class, where she starts finding her feet.
Finding Your Feet finds its own footing by putting its trust in its sturdy performers and avoiding many of the usual tea-time clichés as it allows its British cast to be defined by their relatable human circumstances more than quaint Anglo quirks.
In 1961, Kempton Bunton stole a valuable painting from the London National Gallery. He sent ransom notes saying that he would return it on condition that the government invested more in care for the elderly. What happened next became the stuff of legend. An uplifting true story about a good man who set out to change the world.
In 1961, 60-year-old Kempton Bunton stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. He sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on condition that the government invested more in care for the elderly. What happened next became the stuff of legend. An uplifting true story about a good man who set out to change the world and managed to save his marriage.
You could dine on nothing but lard for twenty years and still not develop the hardness of heart necessary to avoid being won over by Roger Michell‘s The Duke, a ridiculously charming British comedy that dunks a gamely accented prestige cast into an appealingly milky true story like so many digestives into a warm, well-earned, early evening cuppa.
A film based on a true story. Outstanding performances by Jim Boadbent as a man with an active social conscience and Helen Mirren as his long suffering wife. The story is touching, a balance of grief, justice and many humorous moments.
I greatly enjoyed the whole film and would happily watch it again.
An oil company executive gets more than he bargained for when a seemingly simple business trip to Scotland changes his outlook on life. Sent by his boss he quickly begins to question whether he is on the right side.
Up-and-coming Houston oil executive “Mac” MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) gets more than he bargained for when a seemingly simple business trip to Scotland changes his outlook on life. Sent by his colourful boss (Burt Lancaster) to the small village of Ferness, Mac is looking to quickly buy out the townspeople so his company can build a new refinery. But after a taste of country life Mac begins to question whether he is on the right side of this transaction.
Here is a small film to treasure, a loving, funny, understated portrait of a small Scottish town and its encounter with a giant oil company.
Local Hero, which concerns the frustrations of a Texas oilman’s attempts to buy up an idyllic Scottish village, ranks as a lyrical anti-urban comedy in the great tradition of films like I Know Where I’m Going and Whisky Galore!; and its essential triumph is to prove that comedy can still contain a gentle, almost mystical, aspect without necessarily being old-fashioned.
A re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ classic through the comedic lens of its award-winning filmmakers – giving the Dickensian tale new life for a cosmopolitan age with a diverse ensemble cast of stage and screen actors.
Shown: 1 December 2021
Exminster Film Club Rating: 82%
Date of release: 2019
Running time: 1h 59m
Director: Armando Iannucci
Writers: Simon Blackwell, Charles Dickens, Armando Iannucci
The Personal History of David Copperfield Plot Synopsis
A re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ classic ode to grit and perseverance through the comedic lens of its award-winning filmmakers – giving the Dickensian tale new life for a cosmopolitan age with a diverse ensemble cast of stage and screen actors from across the world. Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell lend their wry, yet heart-filled storytelling style to revisiting Dickens’ iconic hero on his quirky journey from impoverished orphan to burgeoning writer in Victorian England.
Restructuring some story arcs and jettisoning others, Iannucci and his collaborator, Simon Blackwell, have created a souped-up, trimmed-down adaptation so fleet and entertaining that its cleverness doesn’t immediately register.