The Irish church of the 50s, a mother, and a disgraced journalist are the perfect elements for a story about love, life, and personal growth.
I talk about Philomena, a 2013’s film by Stephen Frears.
But why talk about it ten years after its release? Let me give you some context.
My husband and I started to watch the Guardian list of 21st century’s 100 best films during the hard Covid’19 lockdown times. After three years, it is certainly outdated, but, pigheaded as we are, we are bound to see all of them as an endeavour that has captivated us beyond expectation.
On that account, the 75th in the rank above is Philomena, the title of our last movie-at-home weekly night.
The film recounts the real-life story of Philomena Lee, an ordinary Irish mother, interpreted by Judy Dench, and Martin Sixsmith, a disgraced mighty journalist, and their search to find the child she has been tracking back for more than 50 years.
First and foremost, Friars introduces two characters in contrasting backgrounds who partner to find Philomena’s lost son and gradually unravel a sordid story of a case of child robbery in the parochial and religious Ireland of the ’50s involving the untouchable catholic church of the moment.
In my opinion, the flashbacks are the perfect cohesive element with the past, while the dialogues showing two opposed ways of seeing life are captivating, as is the evolution of Martin’s role from a depressed snobbish know-it-all atheist who starts mocking the apparent plain, religious, and emphatic antics of the woman but ends up humbled by her strength and tenacity.
In conclusion, Philomena is about beliefs, forgiveness, learning, and closing circles with a plot that alternates between joy and despair without forsaking the sense of hope, justice, and retaliation for the abused.
Based on the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by journalist Martin Sixsmith, what could have been a heartbreaking story turns into an optimistic one under the direction of Stephen Frears.