Movie Review: Philomena (2013)
Philomena tells the true story of Philomena Lee who, as an unwed teen in the 1950s, fell pregnant and whose widowed father sent her to spend the rest of her pregnancy in a Catholic convent. After giving birth to a baby boy, Philomena was forced to work for the convent to repay the costs of her stay. During this time, her son was adopted out. Fifty years later, with the help of journalist Martin Sixsmith, Philomena goes on a search for the son she was forced to give up. This movie is about that search.
The nuns at the abbey are apologetic and claim that all adoption records were destroyed in a fire. Curiously, however, they are able to present her with a document which she signed promising never to attempt to seek contact with her son. Martin and Philomena learn from the locals that the convent adopted out children to American couples and they go to the US to learn more.
First off, anything with Dame Judi Dench in it has to be good. Her portrayal of a Philomena, a simple woman from small town in Ireland, has the right amount of innocence and naivete and delight when experiencing the Greater World, and the compassion and sophistication when dealing with Real World Issues.
I’ve only seen Steve Coogan in comedic roles (Around the World in Eighty Days and the Night at the Museum movies), so to see him in a dramatic role was a change.
When Philomena learns of the career her son (Michael) had in the US, she realises that she could never have given him that kind of life and perhaps things were better off that way. Still, she wonders whether he ever thought about her. Martin and Philomena track down her son’s partner and learn that he did indeed try to look for her by going to the convent where he was born but was turned away from the nuns.
The search for Philomena’s son started at the convent where he was born, and ends at the same convent where he chose to be buried.
Although some things could be said about the Catholic Church and Michael’s lifestyle choices, the film does not focus on that. Instead, the film is more about the search for a ‘lost’ son and finding closure to a sad chapter in one’s life.