If you ever questioned the Catholic Church this brings up a blot on their past, not widespread, but as ugly as the child sex scandal. Philomena is the true story of a Irish Catholic woman searching for her son whom she was forced to give up 47 years prior. It is a story of true faith. Nuns took her in as an unwed pregnant teen and preached that giving her son up was the punishment for her carnal sins. And, for several years she was forced to work in the convent in horrid conditions as payment for being taken in and atonement for her sins. She harbored the secret of her son into her 60's.
But that is but part of the story, the part one sees on the trailers. After her son's fiftieth birthday, she finds help to aid her in her search for her long lost son. A sacked journalist needs a story, and takes her quest on as his project. And, together they search for her son. Anything further will spoil the story.
Dame Judi Dench plays Philomena as only Dench can, incredibly well as a woman torn between the weight of the daily guilt of living a lie about her lost son and her steadfast faith in her church that took that son from her. Steve Coogan (who also wrote the screenplay) plays Martin Sixsmith, the burnt out political journalist. Coogan does a splendid job playing a cynical hard core journalist out of his element in the world of a human interest story. He needs his story for his career as much as Philomena needs to find her son. Together they make the quintessential odd couple.
There is not a wasted scene in the 94 minute film. The story is tight, the dialogue is tidy, and the storyline keeps you guessing. The lines on Dench's wrinkled face, as Philomena, show the pain and anguish this woman endured for years wondering where her son was and would he ever forgive her if she could find him. But, there is that twinkle in her eye when she talks of happier times gone by.
This is oscar material. Take the time to see this film. It is not a tear jerker, a light hearted tale, nor a deep sad depressing story of woe. This is an engaging tale that needed to be told. It is the story of the end of a journey one woman started as a young teenage girl and lived every day of the rest of her life searching for what she lost, knowing she would never find peace until she found him. It is the story of her faith that so cruelly took him away and that same faith that sustained her all those years.