Philomena is based off a true story directed by Stephen Frears and stars Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. The film centers on a woman desperate to find her son that was taken from her nearly fifty years ago. Dench portrays Philomena Lee a witty Irish woman determined to locate her son’s whereabouts, and Coogan portrays Martin Sixsmith a recently unemployed journalist, desperate for a story. The unlikely duo set out together for an unforgettable journey that touches the soul and breaks the heart.
The tale of Philomena is truly heart wrenching. The film starts off in Ireland, with Philomena telling her daughter about a son that she had given birth to in a convent fifty years ago. Her daughter contacts Sixsmith and convinces him to help her mother reconnect with her lost son. When Sixsmith finally agrees, Philomena discusses the awful ordeal the Catholic nuns put her through when she got pregnant at just 14 years of age. Becoming pregnant at just 14 and not married is a sin to the Catholic Church, and as punishment the nuns forced Philomena to give birth without any medications or drugs and forced her to sign her parental rights of the baby away. After her son Anthony is born she is only allowed to be with him for a short period of time once a day. After three years pass, out of Philomena’s control, Anthony (who later on is renamed Michael) is sold to a family in America.
The acting in Philomena is noteworthy. Dench is mind-blowing as Philomena a gentle kindhearted woman who endures a great deal of heart ache and pain, yet still remains poised and strong. Even during her trip with Sixsmith, as difficult as some of the trip was for her, she was witty, comical and her character was almost enviable at how respecting and forgiving a person can be. The audience’s heart yearns for her to find her son, and to finally be at peace and Dench does a remarkable job to keep the audience rooting for her till the end. Coogan delivers a fine performance as well. His character is almost the complete opposite of Dench’s. He portrays a character that is angry and flabbergasted at how the church got away with treating young women the way they did back then and how Philomena handles the situation. His reaction is realistic to that of the audience’s whereas Phiomena’s reactions are a bit farfetched and noble, although it is based off real events.
In conclusion, Philomena is highly recommended to anyone that enjoys films that are based off a true story and depicts the life and struggle of one woman longing to discover the truth about her son.
AMC theaters is playing all the Oscar nominated films on Saturday February 22nd, and Saturday March 1st, check your local AMC and be sure to check out Philomena!