After watching the trailer for Philomena I went into the film expecting a feel good comedy starring two quite different lead actors, Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. What I got instead, was a heart warming story, with a comedy edge, covering a dark emotional journey that demands and receives exceptional performances from it’s twin stars.
The basic story is one of sin and consequence, followed many years later by regret. Dench plays the role of Philomena Lee, who through flash backs we discover was abandoned by her family to the Irish Catholics nuns after she became pregnant out of wedlock. The head nun – and many, but not all of those under her – were extremely cruel and single focussed. The pain of childhood was you penance to bear without drugs or any real medical help. You had to toil seven days a week for four years to pay back the nuns for taking you in, and during that time your child was sold into adoption without your consent.
Now on the eve of her son’s 50th birthday, Philomena shares her story with her daughter, who then convinces a BBC reporter to explore the story, and together the BBC’s Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) and Philomena embark on a journey to find her long lost son.
To say anymore would ruin the experience, as this is a film best entered without any foreknowledge, A journey to be experienced so you get to embrace the entire range of emotions and come out the other side either with the grace of Dench or the cynicism of Coogan.
A truly wonderful experience.
Rating: M Offensive language & sexual references.