In the 1950's pregnant women did not have many ways to handle an unwanted pregnancy. In England some women would go to a convent to have their baby. Thus when the child is born the Church would do their best to find a home for the infant but would make the mother work of a debt for caring for the child. Women would do many of the menial jobs around the convent and would have limited time with their children. Thus when an adoption would occur the mother would sign a letter stating that she would not look for the child in any way.
Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) was such a young woman. She would meet a young man and they in turn would have sexual contact and a baby was born. She was not in any way able to properly care for it. She turned to the church for help and did the very best under the circumstances. She would go on and have a productive life and her child would be adopted by a family from the United States. One problem, Philomena always regretted having given up her child. She would go back to the convent and would be given numerous excuses but the bottom line once you give a nun your word don't expect her to go back on it.
Fifty years later, Philomena will be approached by a man her daughter knows and is asked would you like to find your son. You see the man is a BBC journalist well he was. He was interested in really trying to find out what had happened to the lad.
Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) was also in between jobs at the time. Th two would end up in America in search of the boy. They would learn about the man he grew up to be and the life he had. They will find out that he had passed away from AIDS. Now comes to the crux of the problem.
The church at the time was totally against anything Gay. Still are I suppose but they really didn't like the idea of this coming out. Everybody wanted Philomena to just give up and go away. Sister Hildegarde (Barbara Jefford) was a nun who knew all about the case but you were not going find anything out by her. In her mind Philomena was nothing more than a tramp.
I am a Catholic by faith born and raised. I have a degree in History and to this day some of the stuff that my faith has done in the past really makes you want to stand up and scream. Director Stephen Frears has been able to bring this all to the screen with the work of Steve Coogan and Martin Sixsmith. You see this is a story based on fact. I remember reading about what went on back in the day with the convents. At first, I thought what they had done was good for all concerned. Now I feel it's time to forgive all. You see Philomena had it right to forgive. Sometimes we carry scars around to long and they will take over our lives. This story brings people together who never would have been in contact with each other. This is a story that will bring you to tears but also make you laugh. It also makes you want to forgive all who may have done you wrong. It touches your soul and your inner being and that is what makes a great movie.