Martin Sixsmith, a journalist who has recently lost his job as a government adviser, is looking for his next project. He is reluctant to write a human interest piece but reluctantly agrees to meet Philomena Lee, a woman in her 60s who had given birth to a son 50 years ago but had him taken away from her. Having been sent to an abbey with other teenage moms, the nuns would put them to work while their children were put up for adoption. She enlists the help of Martin, who needs a story, to help her track down her son after all these years.
I had seen a clip of the movie when Steve Coogan (who stars in the film as well as produced & wrote the screenplay) was on one of the late night talk shows and I had been interested in watching it, but in all honesty I probably would never have gotten around to it if it were not for my friend Jenn (Lost in a Great Book) who got passes from Harper Collins Canada. And boy am I glad I went to see it. The movie is absolutely phenomenal. Judi Dench and Coogan (who reminded me a bit of Craig Ferguson at times) are captivating and fantastic in it. The two of them have such great chemistry and banter, where we’ll be laughing in one moment and tearing up in the next. They play off each other so wonderfully with some incredibly charming and endearing moments. Although Coogan may often be known as a comic, he is wonderful in this more dramatic role while still infusing some humour into situations and his delivery.
The characters themselves reminded me a bit of the dynamic between Jack & Locke from one of my favourite shows, Lost, in that they are two people who essentially have one similar goal but different ways of looking at life. One lives on faith, the other on facts and, in that sense, this movie with its roller coaster of emotions forces people to look at things differently as well as appreciate how others may look at things differently.
Based on a true story, I actually wasn’t familiar with Philomena’s tale and found myself quite taken aback at many points in the movie. The startling revelations as the film unfolds is unbelievable. I have heard that there has been outcry from some Catholics on how the nuns from the abbey are depicted in it but I feel that can be said of anything and everything that people will take an issue with. This is Philomena’s story and this is what has happened to her. The movie is in no way generalizing that all Catholics in all the world are the same.
Philomena is an amazing story, made all the more powerful that it has happened to not only the woman of which the movie is based on but countless others. It’s uplifting, it’s tear-jerking and it’s heart warming. It’s one that’s not to be missed.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5 stars)