By: John ’Doc’ Strange

Directed by: Stephen Frears

Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references.)

Selig Rating: FULL PRICE

Runtime: 95 Min.

    In 1952, especially in Ireland with its Roman Catholic population, getting pregnant out of wedlock was still treated as a sin.  When Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) discovered she was pregnant after a one time tryst with a boy she was sent by her family to a convent in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.  There she bore the child and worked daily in a laundry to repay the nuns for the costs of the delivery as well as room and board for her and her infant son.  The nuns made the girls work long hours in menial labor with only short visits to see their children.  The nuns forced the girls to sign away their parental rights and arranged for wealthy foreigners to adopt these children, taking them away from their birth-mothers.
     Philomena has the terrible experience of watching not only her son but the daughter of her best friend taken away by the same couple.  The shame the nuns drummed into her kept her continued to try to locate her son.  The nuns rebuffed her each time.  Finally, on her son’s birthday she revealed the truth to her daughter.  Together they reached out to find help from the press. 
     Their story reaches Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a journalist whose career is in a slump.  At first he resists the idea of doing a human interest piece.  Then he meets Mrs. Lee.  The two are certainly an odd pairing but the chemistry between the two is amazing, the banter is delightful as the naïve Philomena discovers the wonders of the world.
     The screenplay from Steve Coogan is based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee.  Philomena is both heart warming and gut wrenching as the duo follows the trail to find her son all of the way to Washington, DC. 
     This is a film that I can honestly recommend as one of the best I have seen this year.  It’s a true Full Price on our scale.

Movie Site:

The Selig Rating Scale:

FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!

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