Philomena Lee, an Irish woman whose son was taken away from her, is the definition of hope. What happened to her could’ve left emotional scars to last a lifetime, and it’s not as if she was easily able to forget the past, but the way in which she handled the situation and moved forward to try and find her son, Anthony, is something altogether miraculous.
Directed by Stephen Frears (‘The Queen’), ‘Philomena’ brings together two people unlikely to come across each other. Based on true events, a journalist named Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan, ‘Night at the Museum’) decides he wants to write a human interest piece for his editor because, quite frankly, he has lost his touch and must write something different. The human interest is Philomena; played by the spectacular Judi Dench (‘Casino Royale’).
Her story is remarkable. As a young woman she gets pregnant, gives birth in a convent and is only allowed to see him for an hour each day. Mother and son are separated when he is adopted by an American couple. She wasn’t given the chance to wish him a proper goodbye. It’s with the help of Martin, the cynical, religious skeptic, that she starts her journey to find Anthony, almost fifty years since she had last seen him.
They start at the birthplace, the convent in which Philomena lived and Anthony was born. As the car goes down the driveway to the abbey, you can see Philomena’s angst from her expression. They learn that he was brought to America. It’s a trip to Washington, D.C. that binds the two together and their relationship is tested. Is there a story?
The answer is yes; a story which will bring tears to audience members who will undoubtedly empathize with Philomena’s long search. Dench astounds in this film with how compelling her performance was. But there can be no discredit to Coogan’s performance either. He brought the light to Martin. The story was published in the Guardian in 2009. Martin even published a book about Philomena’s experience called ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee.’
Most would call Philomena a hero, an inspiration and a great mother.