Hope, anguish, compassion, love, fear, heartbreak and laughter are among the emotions generated by the British film, ‘Philomena’, starring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan as the main characters.
Based on a true story it tells of an unwed mother whose childbirth is managed by Irish Catholic nuns in the early 1950s. After a few years, during which Philomena is allowed to see her son for only an hour a day, the child is sold to an American couple. So starts Philomena’s search for her son. She marries and has two other children, but only reveals to her daughter that she had a son fifty years after his birth.
A chance encounter with an out-of-work journalist, Martin Sixsmith, leads to him joining Philomena Lee in tracing her son. Through periods of hope, frustration and heartbreak, across Ireland and the USA, the two challenge, and are challenged by, the actions and inaction of the church. Philomena forgives but Martin, a lapsed Catholic, is not able to.
An ethical dilemma of whether or not to publish Philomena’s story is one of the last quandaries dealt with in this film well directed by Stephen Frears.