How can you have a banner year at the movies without Judi Dench in the mix? ─ you simply can’t. “Philomena,” the last of the great Academy Award nominated movies from 2013 has finally been released on DVD.
The priests of the Catholic Church have been taking a good beating lately, so now it’s time to take a shot at the nuns. The story begins when teenage Catholic Philomena Lee (Dench), living in Ireland, is impregnated during a dalliance at a carnival. As atonement for her sin, her parents drop her off at an abbey where she provides slave labor for the nuns working in a convent laundry with girls of similar distress. Once the babies are born they are taken to a nursery where under the cruelest of edicts the mothers are allowed to visit their children for only one hour a day, until wealthy Americans decide that they need a child. In a heartbreaking scene Philomena watches out a window as her young son Michael (Sean Mahon) is whisked away by some wealthy wanna-be parents in a limo.
Fifty years later, Philomena, now in her 70s, hooks up with journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a former BBC correspondent who has recently taken the sack, and tells him how she has been looking for her son for the last five decades. Sixsmith immediately sees the human interest angle in the story and offers to cooperate in the investigation, so that he can publish it for a magazine. Philomena and Sixsmith then travel to Washington, DC, where Michael is supposedly working, in order to provide some closure, with a mother-son reunion; but things become quite complicated.
The traveling companions of Dench and Coogan reminded me of the travel scenes from “Nebraska”: you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. There is a great give-and-take dialogue during the journey concerning Philomena’s piety and Sixsmith’s blatant atheism. Dench, once again is at the top of her game with a countenance that is both simple and sophisticated, and Coogan’s nefarious sarcasm will have you out of your seat ready to him a good slap. Philomena, directed by Stephen Frears, and written by co-star Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope is based on a true story. Sorry it took me so long to review this, but better late than never: This is a winner ─ see it.
My Rating: 5 of 5 Easter Egg Hunts.