Plot summary (from the studio): Falling pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a “fallen woman”. When her baby was only a toddler, he was whisked away by the nuns to America for adoption. Philomena spent the next fifty years searching for him in vain.
Then she met Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary journalist as cynical as Philomena was trusting. Together they set off for America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena’s son, but also the powerful bond that grew up between Philomena and Martin – a surprising relationship that was both profoundly moving and very funny.
The film is a bitter-sweet comedy, a compelling narrative of human love and loss, and a heart-breaking story that ultimately celebrates life.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- The chemistry between Philomena and Martin was just amazing. Obviously, this is a result of the tremendous acting performances by Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, so kudos to those two.
- I pretty much end up liking any film that’s based on a true story, and this was no different. I don’t know that I would have found the same story half so compelling if I thought it were all fiction. Isn’t it interesting what a grain of truth can do to color perceptions?
- Although it was sad that Philomena’s son had died many years before her search brought her to Washington, D.C., it was cool that he ended up buried back in Ireland. That showed that he really did think about his birth and birth mother a lot, and that his roots had a profound impact on his life. It’s nice to think Philomena can visit him whenever she wants.
- Some parts of the film were fairly boring and nearly dragged the action, such as it was, to a halt. Fortunately, Dench and Coogan were good enough to make me want to slog through the dull stuff to see what happened next.
Although Philomena generated Oscar buzz last year, I didn’t really know much about it prior to its being a recent iTunes $.99 rental of the week. But I’m glad I checked out the reviews and decided to give it a chance. It was a surprisingly enjoyable film that told a (mostly) interesting story and didn’t overstay its welcome. I give it 4 stars out of 5.