You may ask what is Judi Dench up to this time? I wonder if this wonderful actress ever dreamed her career would continue to soar into her golden years. I hasten to add that everything you have heard in praise of this film is richly deserved. This is a road picture without the outrageous calamities that usually beset players in this genre; it is a gentle comedy without demeaning any of the characters; and it is also a very effective drama about a young mother and her long-lost child.

This PG-13, pleasantly scripted dramedy was co-written by Jeff Coke (Lots of TV) and Steve Coogan himself, based on the book "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee" by Martin Sixsmith. You will see no sweaty bodies (except when Philomena gives birth), hear no gunshots, and see no vehicular mayhem. What a relief!

We have:
  • Judi Dench ("Skyfall") is Philomena Lee. Many decades ago, as a pregnant teenager abolished to a convent, she was forced to give up her out-of-wedlock boy as penance. She has searched for him for a long, long time. This woman is not worldly, but she IS wise...
  • Steve Coogan ("What Maisie Knew") is Martin Sixsmith, a jaded journalist who suffers from a mild case of depression; he did after all, just lose his job. When he is first approached about this story, his reaction is strictly negative. "Human Interest Stories" are NOT his cup of tea! This may be the first time I've found this actor appealing.
  • Anna Maxwell Martin ("North and South") is Jane, Philomena's daughter who is convinced her mother deserves to know what happened to her little boy after he was taken from her. Jane is the one who approaches the journalist...
The facts, as they are uncovered, are NOT kind to the Catholic Church, nor to the people who administer the penances for their parishioners. In recent years, much has been disclosed about the treatment of young girls and orphans in Ireland, courtesy of the Church, so there is no big surprise here. This simply puts a face on two of its victims.

The home movies that appear throughout seem so authentic, it's hard to know if they are real or not. I can't find anything that tells me, so I think this is simply an extremely sophisticated blend of fact and fiction. Kudos to the artists who put this together!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Here is a preview:
* * * * * * * * * * * *