Nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture and recently passing $100 million in the worldwide box office, Philomena has hit Blu-ray. While nothing is perfect, fans of the film will be pleased with what is offered.
Philomena is still a fantastic film the second time around. It’s not a perfect film with its unnecessary liberties among other nitpicks, but what Philomena does is remarkable. I chuckle in one scene then I want to cry in the next. I’m admiring the Philomena character’s quirks here then I’m feeling terrible for her here. Few films put me through the happiest of emotions then immediately to the saddest ones, and Philomena does that exceptionally. With Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope’s fantastic screenplay and Coogan and Judi Dench’s excellent performances, Philomena is a delightful film. Just be ready for the mood swings you will go through.
On Blu-ray, Philomena has a perfectly suitable presentation. The action in the foreground is nice and clear with great detail, but the backgrounds are quite blurry. It’s not too much of a bother – especially on casual viewings – but it’s very noticeable if you pay attention to that sort of thing. The sound is perfect. Alexandre Desplat’s score doesn’t drown out the dialogue, and the movie stays at a consistent volume throughout.
The Bonus Features on the Philomena Blu-ray are:
The audio commentary with Steve Coogan (producer/writer/star) and Jeff Pope (writer) is an enjoyable one. They talk about all aspects of a scene and can even be critical of them. They’re a little quiet at times, but don’t let that keep you away from a solid commentary.
“A Conversation with Judi Dench” (8:54) has the actress talking about her career from her early beginnings in school to her performance as M in the James Bond films. Why it’s on the Philomena Blu-ray is beyond me (the word “Philomena” is said zero times), but it’s nice to hear Judi talk about her exceptional career.
“The Real Philomena Lee” (2:47) is a much too brief feature that has the cast and crew talk about the woman on which the film is based. With only a few seconds of screen time each for Judi Dench, Sophie Kennedy Clark (who played the young Philomena), and director Stephen Frears, I’m left disappointed. We thankfully get to hear the real Philomena talk about her excitement for the movie, but even that is kept to a minimum. This should’ve been a much more extensive feature.
The “Q&A with Steve Coogan” (24:17) is an excellent talk about the film. He’s very funny when he tells stories from the set and doesn’t hold back when talking about getting the film made. It’s unfortunately cut a bit towards the end when having the full talk would’ve been preferable. Still a great feature though.
While some deleted scenes would’ve been nice, we got a great look at how the movie was made with the commentary and the Q&A. The Judi Dench feature is fine but has nothing to do with the film, and the piece about the real Philomena should’ve been more extensive. It’s still a solid assortment of features, although there’s room for improvement.
The Philomena Blu-ray has a lot of fantastic qualities. The movie is excellent, the presentation is pretty, and the bonus content tells you a lot about the film. But everything has problems. You can nitpick the film, the presentation has too much background blurriness, and the bonus content missed out on some great opportunities. But everything is suitable, and it makes for an overall great Blu-ray.