English Director Stephen Frears, who has brought to the Big Screen The Queen and Dangerous Liasons, has brought to life the true story of Philomena Lee, with his next film PHILOMENA.

Based on the Martin Sixsmith Book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee”, we find ourselves transported to Ireland, where Philomena (Dame Judi Dench) is distraught over not being able to share in the joy of her son’s Birthday – a son that no one knows she birthed in a convent for unwed mothers 50 years ago.   When Philomena shares her pain with her daughter Jane (Anna Maxwell Martin), she also discloses that she would like to find her son.

When Jane accidentally finds out that a renowned Journalist of the BBC, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), is out of work and looking for a good human interest story to take on, she suggests that he speak to her mother about what happened to her, in the convent, and maybe he can also assist in finding her long-lost brother.

As Martin agrees to taking on the story (as a way to get his name and credibility back out there in the media world) he goes with Philomena back to the convent, to find answers.

The sisters at the convent disclose that all of the documents pertaining to the birth and the adoption of Philomena’s son Anthony were destroyed in a fire.  Martin feels an uneasiness about the story these nuns are spinning, and when a bar owner explains that many of the children from the convent were adopted by American families,  Martin and Philomena set out for America to see if they can get any answers there.

Will Philomena ever find her son?  Will Martin get the story he is hoping for? Will the injustice of the sisters and the atrocities that happened when Philomena was young be revealed?

I give PHILOMENA an A:  There is great chemistry between Dench and Coogan from beginning to end, and the fact that this story is true, just makes you want to scream from the rooftops in defense of this wonderful woman, who was denied the right to raise her son.  Sadly too, I think that these types of situations were all too commonplace, not only in Ireland, but in America too, many years ago.   This film will pull at your heartstrings as Dench and Coogan bring the relationship between Philomena and Martin to life, forging a bond that helps both of them make it through a very difficult time in their lives. Philomena will definitely bring a tear or two to your eye, and as I myself am Catholic, this true story brings me to question my faith and its teachings and beliefs once again……so sad……. 

Kathy Kaiser




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