Philomena invokes a plethora of emotions during the 1 hour and 38 minutes on the screen. The fact that it was based off a true story created even more emotion. As an audience, we were angry; we were sad; we laughed and cried and occasionally felt like arguing with the screen. It takes a lot for a movie to invoke such passion in the audience, but Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan were more than adept at this task.
Dame Judi Dench portrays Philomena, an elderly woman finally breaking her 50 years of silence about her stolen son. As a young woman, Philomena had a child out of wedlock and had to live with harsh nuns that were definitely contradictory to the Sound of Music view. Her son was taken from her against her will and 50 years later she enlists the help of journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) to help her find him. Together, they travel across an ocean to get to the bottom of what happened to Philomena’s son.
Sixsmith is a disgraced journalist trying to gain his way back into the favor of the public. He takes on Philomena’s story as a way of regaining his reputation and, along the way, becomes determined to see the story through. Throughout the film, Martin must battle the urge to write a good story versus helping Philomena out as best as he can.
Martin acts as a foil to Philomena, almost acting as a liaison between her and the audience. While Philomena acts reserved and polite through their journey, Sixsmith speaks his mind and is unforgiving as opposed to her more forgiving nature towards those who wronged her. Even though I did not understand many of Philomena’s actions, Dench caused me to empathize with her character and to understand at some level the reason behind her orthodox behaviors.
Overall, this is a film of nothing less than motherly affection. While this may not be a traditional love story, Philomena is a tale of a mother who so desperately loves her son and would do anything to make him know that she never gave him up willingly.
- Judi Dench felt a tremendous responsibility toward Philomena Lee (latimes.com)
- Philomena Review (ragingfilm.wordpress.com)
- Steve Coogan and Philomena Lee on “Philomena” (wnyc.org)