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Philomena

Released November 27, 2013

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

Steve Coogan (screenplay), Jeff Pope (screenplay)

Stars:

Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark 

 

Synopses:  Philomena, played by Judi Dench, is a true story about an elderly woman, played by Judy Dench who seeks to find a son who was taken away from her fifty years earlier when he was three years of age. 

When Philomena became pregnant, she was just a young teenage girl.  Her father sent her to live in a Catholic convent where she gave birth to her son.  One day, a man and woman came to the convent and took her son away.  She protested but there was nothing she could do.  The nuns had persuaded her to sign an agreement stating she would give up her son and never talk to anyone about the adoption.

After 50 years wondering about her son, she decides it is time to find him.  She wondered where he is and what happened to him.  One night after drinking too much at a party, Philomena opens up to her daughter and tells her the story about her son.  The daughter understands how deeply sad her mother is and decides to help her find her, now adult son.

Philomena’s daughter meets an unemployed journalist named Martin Sixsmith,  played by Steven Coogan, at a party.  She tells him about her mother and the son she was forced to give up.  She asks him if he would be interested in helping her mother find her son.   He thinks about it and agrees to write a story hoping it would jump start his journalist career once more.  He goes to meet with Philomena and something happens.  He is intrigued with Philomena and her story.  He agrees to help find her son. 

The research begins at the convent where she lived with her son before he was taken from her.  When he asked for access to any documents they may have had, they tell him there was a fire; years before, and they were destroyed. He asked if there was someone he could talk to about those years.  The nun told him everyone was gone that lived during those years.  In the corner of his eye he spotted a very elderly woman. He followed her into the nuns’ private area.  When he tried to talk to her she ran away and would not answer any questions.  He had a hunch the nuns were hiding something and he intuitively knew there was more to the story. 

Together he and Philomena went through the difficult process of searching through adoption records. They did so without the cooperation of Sean Ross Abbey, who they discovered had made a healthy profit arranging for childless couples to adopt Irish children. 

His research led them both to Washington DC.  There, they put pieces of the puzzle together and found her son.  They went to his home, only to find his partner there and her son gone.  He had passed away only months before her visit; however she met her son’s partner and had the opportunity to talk about him and see pictures.  He told her that they had gone to Ireland looking for her but were unable to get the information from the convent. 

In time, Sixsmith and Philomena did discover the truth about her son, and she felt sad that she had not had the opportunity to know him. 

Review: Based on the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee”, Philomena is a drama with touches of comedy throughout the movie.  Judi Dench plays Philomena with a style only Judi Dench can play.  She and Steve Coogan, who plays Martin Sixsmith, have a warm and touching relationship.

The movie was real, and I could feel her sadness.  The daughter’s role in the film was brief and the film was primarily Sixsmith and Dench.

Stephen Arthur Frears, English director, has directed other feature films including 1985’s ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’, the 1988 version of Dangerous Liaisons, an adaptation of Nick Hornby novel High Fidelity.  His latest movie,Philomena is insightfully directed.  He is able to take this true story and move it away from a movie filled with sadness to a gripping and believable story about a mothers sorrow in losing her child.

 Philomena won the Peoples Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.  It is a movie worth seeing.  

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