This simple true story of a woman’s quest to find her son is the only true tearjerker I’ve seen this year. Told with simplicity and at some points humor, the film never loses focus and builds until a satisfying end.
It’s sad and probably not as funny as you would expect from writer and star Steve Coogan, but I highly recommend it. It’s the kind of movie you could watch with your extended family. Essentially it’s a Liftetime type of story, so no guns or action scenes or anything – it’s pure drama but a very well done one. The main moral of the story is that the Catholic Church’s obsession with sex (or rather that sex is a sin) has ruined many lives. Philomena (Judi Dench) was just a teenager when she “got in trouble” and her parents made the mistake of sending her to a convent in Ireland. The nuns there operated it as a baby selling business all the while shaming and enslaving the young mothers they were entrusted with. Even after what they did to her, Philomena remains a devoted Catholic. Her discussions with the atheist reporter played by Coogan are entertaining.
One other thing worth mentioning is the ever present and emotional score by Frenchman Alexandre Desplat. Music in movies means so much to me, it easily pushed this to a 4 instead of a 3. It’s in my head as I’m writing this.
4 Guinness Harps Outta 5