We first meet our title character in 1952 in Ireland in a home for unwed mothers run by Catholic nuns. She has given birth to a boy she calls Anthony, and according to regulations, she can stay there for a period of four years as can her child. She and the other girls are able to be with their children for one hour each day. The families of these girls feel so disgraced by their daughter's sin that most often they want nothing to do with their daughter thereafter.


Map of IrelandCredit: Google

                                                                        Map of Ireland

The girls dread seeing an expensive automobile come up the driveway because it means that a couple, probably Americans, have come to adopt one of the children. Philomena's friend Mary was distraught when she discovered that her little girl was to be one of the adoptees. Since Anthony and Mary's daughter have always been inseparable, the couple decided to adopt Anthony also. After that day, the girls never saw their children again.


Certificate of AdoptionCredit: Google

                                                              Certificate of Adoption

Fifty years later, after moving to England and marrying, Philomena got the courage to tell her daughter Jane that she had had a child out of wedlock. Jane agreed that her mother should try to find Anthony and set out to find someone who could help them.

Martin Sixsmith, a writer (played by Steve Coogan), had just lost his job as a government adviser and was bent on researching and publishing a book on Russian history. When presented by Jane with her mother’s problem, he initially declared that he was not interested in doing a human interest story. He soon changed his mind.

When Martin was introduced to his new-found friend, the duo began an adventure that took them back to the convent in Roscrea, Ireland and as far away as the United States to search for Anthony's whereabouts. The nuns explained that all their records were lost in a fire and they were unable to give the two travelers any information. Philomena's deepest desire was to know whether Anthony had remembered her at all and had ever thought about her since she had thought about him every day of her life.

It was brought out that the nuns profited from the sale of the babies, mainly to wealthy couples who lived in the United States. By traveling to the United States, Martin felt that they would be able to track down the whereabouts of Anthony through Martin’s connections in his old job.

You must see the film to learn the rest of the story. It will not be told here. It is enough to say that our heroine emerged from her trials very graciously rather than seeking vengeance from the cruelty she endured as a young girl. There has been some discussion about references to Catholic practices in those days which has provoked some debate as to whether the story is an attack on the Catholic Church. The director and the writers declare that it was never their intention.

                                       Dame Judi DenchCredit: Google                                        

                                                                   Dame Judi Dench

The film received four Oscar nominations, one for Best Motion Picture of the Year, and another for Dame Judi Dench for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. She was also nominated in the same category for a Golden Globe Award, which did not go to her either.

I tend to watch every film which casts Dame Judi Dench. Her fans are never disappointed; she gives a stellar performance each time.