An analysis of Philomena, based entirely on the movie poster

February 03, 2014 / by / 15 Comments

In the second installment of the special Oscars Best Picture Nomination edition of “A Film Analysis Based Entirely Upon The Movie Poster,” we visit Philomena, starring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.

Here’s what we were able to learn from the film’s poster:

Judi Dench Has Terrifying Plans

Like many of the nominees for Best Picture this year, Philomena‘s poster does not reveal much by ways of character or plot. However, the film’s poster does foreshadow one very important thing: Judi Dench, who assumedly plays the film’s titular character, is going to do something truly horrifying in Philomena. I mean, just look at her eyes. Look at them. LOOK AT THEM. Those are the eyes of a woman with a plot to do horrible, horrible things to an unsuspecting Steve Coogan.

Judi Dench Takes Steve Coogan Captive as a Pet

Just barely implied in the movie poster, audiences will get a real shock when Judi Dench takes Steve Coogan as her pet-slave, Silence of the Lambs style. What’s perhaps even more shocking is watching Coogan, originally skeptical of Dench and her intentions, slowly begin to trust the woman who will soon lock him in a basement and force-feed him slop. Poor Coogan thought he was just having a friendly conversation with an odd woman looking for her son, and his kindness lures him into a nightmarish dungeon.

Steve Coogan is Judi Dench’s Son, Still Trapped in a Basement

In its heart of hearts, Philomena is still a film about a woman looking for her long-lost son, which is what makes the capture and enslavement of Steve Coogan all the more shocking. However, the film returns to its emotional core when it’s revealed that Coogan, emaciated and suffering in Dench’s dungeon, is actually revealed to be Judi Dench’s lost son. The emotional progression that stems from this revelation produces a truly heartbreaking tale about loss, acceptance, and betrayal that certainly should’ve earned Coogan an Oscar nomination. However, this part of the film does not get the attention it deserves, as the graphic – I mean, graphic – torturing of Coogan takes up the majority of the film’s runtime.

This All Really Happened

Perhaps the most shocking element of Philomena is that it is “inspired by a true story,” meaning this all really happened. At one point in history, unbeknownst to the public, Dame Judi Dench approached Steve Coogan on a bench, took him captive, and discovered she was his biological mother. The fact that this all happened during both of these actors’ careers is a testament to Coogan’s strength as a person and the shortcomings of our justice system. If for no other reason, go see this film to watch a man’s amazing attempt to come to grips with his past as he is forced to relive it on camera. The Act of Killing may have been the film that garnered the most attention for its attempts to force men to relive their unspeakable actions, but you cannot let Philomena fall through simply because it did the same thing a few months later.