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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )
87





Studio and Year: Anchor Bay Entertainment - 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 98 Minutes
Genre: Drama, Mystery

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Written by: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (screenplay), Martin Sixsmith (book "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee")
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 15th, 2014
"These two unlikely companions are on a journey to find her long lost son."


Film Synopsis:

A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.



My Take:

Judi Dench stars as the the titular Philomena, in the true story of Philomena Lee. When Philomena opens up to her daughter about the burning secret of the child she gave up for adoption 50 years ago, the wheels are set in motion of an unlikely road trip. Philomena takes a life changing journey with Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a former BBC reporter who was just disgracefully dismissed from the Labour Party. Martin arranges a magazine assignment about her search that leads the two from the Irish convent where a young Philomena had the child out of wedlock and was forced to give him up for adoption to America...and to the truth about more than just the child's fate.


The beauty of the film and of Philomina's story is the interaction between her and Martin, as they both learn about about each other, they both actually learn about themselves and even have their polarizing beliefs about faith challenged. Dench had a well deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress here, however, the surprise for me was Coogans performance. He really shed his more sarcastic and comedic style and proved his worth as a dramatic actor. Director Stephen Frears directed with a level of trust in his cast, story, cinematographer and crew to where things just seemed fluid and never forced. Philomena is far from an original story, and it is not about being blatant or forced. Just like out protagonists journey, the film is one of subtle and slow self discovery, and of opening ones eyes to a world bigger then the one they have been living in. Highly recommended.

Parental Guide:

Strong language, thematic elements and sexual references




AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


Audio: 82

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:




Video: 92

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:


Philomena comes to Blu-ray disc from Anchor Bay featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24.2 mbps and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound with an average bitrate of 3.8 mbps.

Philomena is a beautifully lensed film that seemed to favor a crisp and clean image with a warmer golden overtone in its present day passages and a colder, grittier less sharp image that houses a healthy dose of film grain in its flashbacks. Both have a natural color palette that is never overly saturated, but rich enough to sit comfortably on top of the films fine details that are in abundance, as well its deep blacks and stable contrast. All of this equates to a wonderful high definition image that made a great film even more of a joy to watch. Its lossless audio track is classy, never too aggressive, with always intelligible dialogue that sat on top of its soundtrack with ease. Surrounds are never obvious, however, they are used with care adding real life ambiance to the film.

Bonus Features:

  • Feature Commentary With Steve Coogan And Screenwriter Jeff Pop

  • (HD) A Conversation With Judi Dench

  • (HD) The Real Philomena Lee

  • (HD) Q&A With Steve Coogan

  • (HD) UV Digital Copy



Final Thoughts:

Philomena was nominated for Best Film as well as Best Actress. Both are warranted nominations, as this is a beautifully crafted film that slowly sucks you into a story that is not so much about its main narrative, but about what a story can do to those involved a deeper level. Anchor Bay delivers a gorgeous looking Blu-ray of reference quality video that makes taking our characters journey even that much more rewarding. Again, this highly recommended.









Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS4910 3D 1080p 3D High Definition Front Projector

Screen Innovations Gamma Maestro 4K 1.1 138" 2.35:1 Acoustically Transparent CinemaScope Screen

Da-Lite Pro Imager Projector Screen Masking System

Onkyo PR-SC5509 Pre/Pro

Parasound Halo A51 & A21 7x250

Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Triad Gold LCR's

Triad Silver Surrounds x4

Triad Bronze Subwoofers x4

Panamorph DC1 Anamorphic Lens

AudioQuest Wires


Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 3D 1080p Plasma

URC DMS-AV Receiver

Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

MKSound MP-7 LCR's

MKSound SUR-55T Surrounds

Triad Bronze Subwoofer
 

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Lee - thanks for the excellent review. I am a sucker for character development style stories or when characters go through a series of circumstances and somewhere along the line gain a moment of clarity or an epiphany of sorts.


I do have a question spawned by the audio ratings (if I may) ...


If a film is mostly dialogue or doesn't require much in the way of surround sound, does it get rated lower as far as audio is concerned? It seems to me it is a bit off to compare an action film with a low key movie with the present audio ratings. What is the criteria that all films are subject to with respect to audio ratings?


Please understand it is not a criticism but somehow it seems at times that apples and oranges are being compared.


cheers

Phrehdd
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrehdd  /t/1524044/philomena-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24530722


Lee - thanks for the excellent review. I am a sucker for character development style stories or when characters go through a series of circumstances and somewhere along the line gain a moment of clarity or an epiphany of sorts.


I do have a question spawned by the audio ratings (if I may) ...


If a film is mostly dialogue or doesn't require much in the way of surround sound, does it get rated lower as far as audio is concerned? It seems to me it is a bit off to compare an action film with a low key movie with the present audio ratings. What is the criteria that all films are subject to with respect to audio ratings?


Please understand it is not a criticism but somehow it seems at times that apples and oranges are being compared.


cheers

Phrehdd

Greetings,


Phrehdd, I know your question was directed at Lee however I will chime in if you don't mind. The answer falls into a bit of a gray area in that it is yes and no. Yes in that a dialogue driven film probably won't receive a 100 for audio and no in that dialogue driven films aren't compared to action films. Part of this is owed to the rating system we use. Generally what we do is begin at a fifty percent rating for categories that may not be applicable to a specific soundtrack. A two channel soundtrack for example would receive 2.5 for surround and LFE while the other parameters such as dialogue, clarity, dynamics would be rated normally. This also occurs with multi-channel dialogue driven tracks although in many cases we are able to rate them in those areas based upon the recorded elements (music, atmosphere) and how they are implemented using the mix/surround stage. If we didn't account for this in some way dialogue driven films would receive ratings in the 40, 50, and 60 ranges.


This wouldn't be representative of the quality of their elements based upon the subject matter and how well it is used by the mixing engineer. Again I realize that this isn't a perfect system however neither is the use of a 1 through 5 star rating system. Once most readers get a feel for our scale both with action based and drama/dialogue based ratings it's simple enough to glean an understanding given a specific circumstance.


I hope this helps.


Regards,
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts  /t/1524044/philomena-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24532335


Greetings,


Phrehdd, I know your question was directed at Lee however I will chime in if you don't mind. The answer falls into a bit of a gray area in that it is yes and no. Yes in that a dialogue driven film probably won't receive a 100 for audio and no in that dialogue driven films aren't compared to action films. Part of this is owed to the rating system we use. Generally what we do is begin at a fifty percent rating for categories that may not be applicable to a specific soundtrack. A two channel soundtrack for example would receive 2.5 for surround and LFE while the other parameters such as dialogue, clarity, dynamics would be rated normally. This also occurs with multi-channel dialogue driven tracks although in many cases we are able to rate them in those areas based upon the recorded elements (music, atmosphere) and how they are implemented using the mix/surround stage. If we didn't account for this in some way dialogue driven films would receive ratings in the 40, 50, and 60 ranges.


This wouldn't be representative of the quality of their elements based upon the subject matter and how well it is used by the mixing engineer. Again I realize that this isn't a perfect system however neither is the use of a 1 through 5 star rating system. Once most readers get a feel for our scale both with action based and drama/dialogue based ratings it's simple enough to glean an understanding given a specific circumstance.


I hope this helps.


Regards,

Hi Ralph,


Thank you very much for the explanation. I appreciate the challenge when it comes to preparing ratings/scores which can't always be an easy task. Again, thanks!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrehdd  /t/1524044/philomena-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24532721


Hi Ralph,


Thank you very much for the explanation. I appreciate the challenge when it comes to preparing ratings/scores which can't always be an easy task. Again, thanks!

Greetings,


My pleasure Phrehdd. Thanks for having enough interest to inquire...




Regards,
 

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I saw Philomena in the theater and was blown away, both by Judy Dench's performance and Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope's Oscar nominated screenplay. I had hoped the screenplay might win the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar but it was not to be. To add insult to injury, the screenplay I judged to be by far the weakest of those nominated, 12 Years a Slave, won instead. Alas, I won't get to see Philomena again until it shows up on one of the premium movie channels because Redbox only stocked the DVD of the film and passed over the BD. Redbox to its eternal shame does this a lot. They also don't carry the BD of Blue Jasmine, which means I won't get to see it until it too is run on a premium movie channel. Arrg!
 
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One of my favorite movies of last year. I lent my copy to a friend of mine who was adopted as a baby and he absolutely loved it. The performances are outstanding and the story is so touching yet infuriating at the same time.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Vaughn  /t/1524044/philomena-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_100#post_24534548


One of my favorite movies of last year. I lent my copy to a friend of mine who was adopted as a baby and he absolutely loved it. The performances are outstanding and the story is so touching yet infuriating at the same time.

Yeah, the story did throw the Catholic Church under the bus, to say the least.
I guess that sort of thing really was a well known scandal in Ireland in those years. Brrr!
 

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"Just like out protagonists journey, the film is one of subtle and slow self discovery, and of opening ones eyes to a world bigger then the one they have been living in."


- Well put! Her line, "But I don't want to hate people. I don't want to be like you," was incredibly powerful in context. I enjoyed this film quite a bit.
 

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Really looking forward to this one. Two of my favorite actors together in a character piece!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrehdd  /t/1524044/philomena-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_40#post_24530722


Lee - thanks for the excellent review. I am a sucker for character development style stories or when characters go through a series of circumstances and somewhere along the line gain a moment of clarity or an epiphany of sorts.


I do have a question spawned by the audio ratings (if I may) ...


If a film is mostly dialogue or doesn't require much in the way of surround sound, does it get rated lower as far as audio is concerned? It seems to me it is a bit off to compare an action film with a low key movie with the present audio ratings. What is the criteria that all films are subject to with respect to audio ratings?


Please understand it is not a criticism but somehow it seems at times that apples and oranges are being compared.


cheers

Phrehdd

Thanks. And thanks to Ralph for answering.
 

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Wow, this movie was deeper than I gave it credit for...I reacted to it on several levels and it's one I'll be thinking about for some time to come.


First of all, how bout Judi Dench...just a phenomenal actress, one of the best of her generation, and one of the best I've ever seen in my lifetime.


Second, I love films that are based on real events, but at the same time it really drives me nuts when the writer/director/actors seemingly interject their own biases or politics into the story that can be misleading. As a Catholic, it's always made sense to me to separate my Catholic faith from the Catholic Church. The Church itself is run by men (and women) who are imperfect, and who at times have done, and still continue to do, horrible things. These people should be sought out and removed from any position they may hold within the church, and, when deserving, arrested and prosecuted for their crimes. The Church is not perfect, nor does it profess to be, and when things like the situation(s) depicted in this film take place, it's horrible. But sometimes I see certain things presented in a way that implies it's some sort of doctrine of the church, and it is those times when I feel the material is being handled irresponsibly.


I don't know if the nun who held a 50+ year grudge against girls/women who had sexual relations was an actual person or fictional, but that point of view is not by any means a teaching or belief of the Catholic church, nor has it ever been. If it was a real nun who acted that way, then it's a travesty that that sort of person was allowed to ever become and/or remain a nun, let alone have any interaction with adoptions. Whatever lies and cover-up(s) took place at this institution that were factual, I say have at it. I make no excuses for any man or woman within the church who takes advantage of or harms those in their care, nor will I ever. But having scenes were three different people cite the same line, that "I can't believe they sold babies!" is sensationalist and irresponsible, IMO.


One area I wish they would have fleshed out a bit more was why her son's former significant other was so reluctant to speak with her. Again, assuming that actually happened, it would have been interesting to know more about his apprehension.


Anyway, what a remarkable person Philomena is...I love how consistent her character was, but I'm so very sorry she had to go through some of that....
 

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Summa,


If you want to do more reading about this case, Google it and there are some great articles from the other side of the pond. In regard to your comment about "selling babies," it's in the movie so many times because it was true. It was a HUGE scandal in Ireland and the Church and the Government were working hand-in-hand in the affair.
 
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