Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
Directed by Stephen Frears
An elderly Irish woman looks back on a child she had to give up and wonders where he is now.
Philomena (Dench) has broken her 50 year silence after she began to doubt what the greater sin was: having her child out of wedlock or not looking for him after he was adopted. Martin (Coogan) has just been fired from his post as a journalist for the BBC and hears about Philomena’s search for a long lost son. She spills her heartbreaking story about how the nuns of Roscrea Abbey forced her to work for the abbey to pay for the care of herself and her child. When the child was a toddler, he was adopted without Philomena’s consent and she wasn’t called to say goodbye to him.
Philomena shows the harsh reality of the early 20th century that young women for forced to give up their babies, and were unaware of the details surrounding their adoption. Philomena contacted the abbey throughout her older years asking if they could trace her son, but they never did anything to help. It wasn’t until Martin came along to dig deeper that he found anything for her. He discovered rich Catholic Americans were buying the babies from the abbey, and that her son was sent across the ocean.
Despite all the deep anger that comes up, Philomena has the heart to forgive the nuns from the wrong they have done. She annoys Martin with her positive nature and her cheeriness with everyone she meets. Yet unburdening herself has set her free from wondering day after day, is he all right? Is he homeless? Is he a drug addict? She finds her answer with the help of one man who knows how to investigate properly.
The movie was based on true events, and so it shows a side to the Catholic church that no one really wants to see. It can be a hard movie to watch because of how Catholics were portrayed. One thing to keep in mind while watching is that while the actions of these nuns were terrible, it isn’t something they are doing today, thankfully. Also, I can’t believe Catholics would be the only guilty religion doing things like these. At the end of the movie, we hear that many women are still searching for their children that were taken from them.
Overall, Philomena is one of those movies you might want to see once. It’s kind of like reading a well-written article about a mother looking for her son. Once you read it, you can put the story away without wanting another read for a long time.