Philomena (Stephen Frears – 2014) A

Judi Dench has not been any better than she is here. I loved this story of an old Irish woman teaming up with an ex-BBC political reporter to find her son. She was a young unwed mother sent to a convent in a little Irish village in the 50s. She was put to work, treated harshly and her son given up (or sold) for adoption. Her story is similar to many others from that generation, taken advantage of because they “sinned” and their children given away without a second thought. As one nice nun puts it ‘they really have only themselves to blame’.

Philomena is not particulrly bitter about the church, her faith or the nuns. She stands in contrast to Sixsmith, the reporter played by Steve Coogan, who is bitter about losing his job and initially about this “human story” he’s writing. The true story of Philomena, her journey that takes her to Washington and the discoveries she makes are heartbreaking but in the end we are left with admiration for this funny little woman, her light-hearted banter and her faith. Dench makes her a character I would love to meet, if only to ask that one question: Do you really forgive them?


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