Philomena (2013)


run time: 98 mins.
rated: PG-13
considered: Drama
starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sean Mahon, Peter Hermann, Mare Winningham, Barbara Jefford

movie summary: A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent. (

my thoughts: The movie Philomena is based on the real life story of Philomena Lee’s journey to find out what happened to her son Anthony after giving him up for adoption some 50 years ago.

Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) is a recently unemployed journalist who once covered British politics and wrote books about Russian history. Down on his luck and borderline depressed, someone approaches him to do a human interest story. At first he turns down the opportunity but with nothing else to do soon changes his mind. One day he meets Philomena (Judi Dench), an elderly women who had a baby boy, Anthony, at 15 and was forced to give him up for adoption. In the 50 years since, she has been able to move on and have a family, but always thinks back to that faithful day. She simply wonders what happen to him and if he ever thought about her.

The pair visit the convent in Roscrea where Philomena once stayed. Their search doesn’t get off on the right foot because the sisters there don’t have any adoption paperwork due to a fire a couple of decades ago. Shortly after Martin makes some phone calls and searches the internet for any possible leads. He comes across an adoption agency in the US that used to pay for kids from Europe to give to American families. The magazine interested in publishing this amazing story agrees to pay for Martin and Philomena to head to Washington DC in search of a happy ending. In the nation’s Capital, the adoption agency sends hundreds of photos of kids who were adopted over the years. After a couple of dead ends, they finally come across a guy named Michael who shares the same birthday and adoption year as Anthony.

Michael has made quite a life for himself working as an advisor for two US Presidents while honouring his Irish roots. Martin and Philamena meet people who are close to Michael but the more they find out about his life and his lifestyle, it starts to seem a meeting between mother and son may be too late.

Philomena is a heartwarming story about the cruel world of teenage parenthood and forced adoptions in the strict 1950’s Roman Catholic Church. Judi Dench is fantastic in the lead role as she tries to put to rest any questions and thoughts she’d had about her long-lost son. She is really funny as the old lady who tags along and nags the hard ass Martin (Coogan) who needs to lighten up. Together they bond on screen and in the end learn some valuable life lessons from one another. This charming story about forgiveness needed to be shared with the world, but will be a hit more with the senior audience and people who like British theme story lines.

my star rating: 3 out 10

2 thoughts on “Philomena (2013)

  1. Good review Ryan. I don’t know why I’ve come off to be such a negative Nancy about this, but I just can’t get past this movie’s tone. One second, it was light and goofy, whereas the next, it was supposed to be dark, evil and sinister about who it was attacking and why. Made sense and all, but the execution just wasn’t done well.

    1. There were many heart warming moments and other moments where I was like “I can’t believe I’m watching this” but to be fair this isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Like I said this will be a hit with a certain type of audience, not the general public.

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