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Stephen Frears (2013)

12 Certificate
Catch Up


Our Score
Judi Dench is on sparkling form as the titular Irish woman whose child was snatched away by nuns at a time when giving birth out of wedlock was treated as a criminal act. Decades later, journalist Martin Sixsmith represents her only hope of finding her son (the film is based on his 2009 book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee). Steve Coogan is suitably irascible as the former BBC correspondent, just publicly fired from his second career as a Labour government adviser, initially turning his nose up at the idea of pursuing a "human interest story". But Philomena, brimming with religious faith and optimism, is such a force of nature that he can't help but be swayed. Director Stephen Frears exploits the odd-couple dynamic to great effect, not only generating wonderful comic moments but also bringing home the tragedy of Philomena's life. He might have given their journey to America a little more cinematic sweep, but it's no less inspiring for that. You'll laugh and you'll cry, sometimes both at the same time. USED 20/05/2017 Based on the true story of how Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) spent 50 years seeking her long-lost illegitimate son. She was 17 when she gave birth in an Irish abbey. The nuns there sold her child to an American couple for £1,000. Philomena's search becomes more urgent when former BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) hears of it and offers to help. They reach a dead end in Ireland when they learn that the nuns had conveniently burnt all records of the transaction so they go to America to look for the boy. This is at heart a horrifying tale which, thanks to the two stars and the Oscar-nominated screenplay by Coogan and Jeff Pope, is both very moving and funny. Dench is as immaculate as ever and Coogan is excellent in a straight, dramatic role. BARRY NORMAN


Premiere. A teenager in 1950s Ireland becomes pregnant, and is sent to a home for `fallen women', while her baby is forcibly taken from her and sent to America to be adopted. Fifty years later, she meets a disillusioned political journalist who helps to reunite her with her son. Fact-based drama, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.

Cast & Crew

Philomena Lee Judi Dench
Martin Sixsmith Steve Coogan
Sally Mitchell Michelle Fairley
Sister Hildegarde Barbara Jefford
Jane Anna Maxwell Martin
Mary Mare Winningham
Young Philomena Sophie Kennedy Clark
Mother Barbara Ruth McCabe
Kate Sixsmith Simone Lahbib
Director Stephen Frears
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Other Information

Language: English Colour Theatrical distributor: pathe Guidance: Swearing, sexual references. Available on: Available on DVD and BluRay Released on: 1 Nov 2013


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