This movie poster for Philomena (2013 PG-13) makes it seem like a cheery romp about a quirky mother and her long-suffering son. Nope.
Philomena shows the decades-long suffering of an Irish woman at the hands of a misguided Catholic convent. Worse, it is based on a true story.
Young Philomena (Sophie Kennedy Clark) is pregnant and alone and sent to a convent. She and other teenaged girls are allowed to stay for four years, working in return for a place to live and have their babies. Until their babies are adopted. But none of the girls have any choice in the matter.
On what would be her sons 50th birthday, Philomena (Judi Dench) tells her story and asks cynical reporter Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) to help her find her son. Over the years she had tried asking the nuns to find out where he had been sent, just so she could reassure herself that he was alright. But they always insisted they could not help, saying the records had been destroyed in a fire, or pointing out the form she signed upon entrance to the convent as a 16-year-old girl.
Philomena still has a strong faith in God and belief in the Catholic Church, yet Martin does not. He is appalled about what happened to Philomena and the other girls, and will help her find her son, while also helping sell the story.
Now is where the movie poster matches the story. Martin barely tolerates Philomena’s naive cheerfulness. Philomena continues to believe in forgiveness. As the search grows complicated and discouraging, Philomena becomes shaken, yet still faithful, while Martin becomes empathetic and caring.
Excellent movie, heartbreaking story. Why was such a terrible thing allowed to happen?