Adapted from a book by Martin Sixsmith, this absorbing drama recounts the British journalist’s relationship with Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who bore a child out of wedlock in the 1950s and was forced by nuns at the Roscrea convent to surrender it for adoption. The movie opens in 2004, as Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) begins researching a magazine story about Lee (Judi Dench) and her efforts to track down the child; their search leads them to Washington, D.C., where a poignant and ironic twist of fate points them back across the Atlantic to the convent. Coogan, continuing his metamorphosis from neurotic clown to nuanced dramatic actor (What Maisie Knew, The Look of Love), produced the film and collaborated with Jeff Pope on the screenplay; its comic moments, many of them predicated on Lee’s frank statements about sex, are a little cute for my taste, but the story touches on some of the thorniest issues of Catholic doctrine and tempers its righteous anger with a tone more sad than bitter. Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things) directed; with Mare Winningham and Barbara Jefford.
Nuns are no fun in Philomena
Judi Dench stars as a Catholic single mother who was stripped of her child.