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Philomena (2013)

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A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

Steve Coogan (screenplay), Jeff Pope (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 33 wins & 80 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Judi Dench ... Philomena
Steve Coogan ... Martin Sixsmith
Sophie Kennedy Clark ... Young Philomena
Mare Winningham ... Mary
Barbara Jefford ... Sister Hildegarde
Ruth McCabe ... Mother Barbara
Peter Hermann ... Pete Olsson
Sean Mahon ... Michael
Anna Maxwell Martin ... Jane
Michelle Fairley ... Sally Mitchell
Wunmi Mosaku ... Young Nun
Amy McAllister ... Sister Anunciata
Charlie Murphy ... Kathleen
Cathy Belton ... Sister Claire
Kate Fleetwood ... Young Sister Hildegarde
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Storyline

When former journalist Martin Sixsmith is dismissed from the Labour Party in disgrace, he is at a loss as to what do. That changes when a young Irish woman approaches him about a story of her mother, Philomena, who had her son taken away when she was a teenage inmate of a Catholic convent. Martin arranges a magazine assignment about her search for him that eventually leads to America. Along the way, Martin and Philomena discover as much about each other as about her son's fate. Furthermore, both find their basic beliefs challenged. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of a search for a lost son. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 November 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Filomena See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,509,726 (United Kingdom), 3 November 2013, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$128,435, 22 November 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$37,707,719, 16 May 2014

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$100,112,825, 5 May 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Decades later, partly due to the original book, it became apparent just how common stories like Philomena's were in Ireland before, during, and after the 1950s. Revelations about widespread forced adoptions, and abuse of children and unmarried mothers by the Roman Catholic Church and other religious organizations, have given this film a much darker undercurrent than originally intended. See more »

Goofs

When Martin enters the car at the monastery he has a messenger bag on his shoulder, but inside the car the bag isn't there. See more »

Quotes

Philomena: But what if he died in Vietnam? Or, or came back with no legs? Or lived on the street?
Martin Sixsmith: Don't upset yourself. We don't know what we don't know.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Real footage of Anthony/Michael is shown at the ending credits See more »


Soundtracks

Nocturne In F-Sharp, Op. 15, No. 2
(uncredited)
Composed by Frédéric Chopin
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An incredible and heartfelt story
16 November 2013 | by phillewis91See all my reviews

Steve Coogan has said that Philomena is his reaction against cynicism - his attempt to make an honest and fundamentally sincere film. The biggest compliment that can be paid to him is that, in these goals, he has succeeded.

It tells the story of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench, who is as brilliant as ever), an elderly Irish woman whose child was taken away from her 50 years ago by an austere Catholic convent. Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) is the cynical, know-it-all journalist turned government spin doctor, recently sacked, who is on the look out for a story. After a chance encounter at a party, Sixsmith reluctantly takes up the 'human interest' story of Philomena's search for her son, Anthony.

The key to Philomena is the relationship between the titular character and Sixsmith. And it works. It really works, in fact. His cynicism, bordering on arrogance, is matched perfectly by her simple and completely sincere belief in common human decency. It could easily have been overly sentimental, but Judi Dench in particular does a remarkable job of keeping it grounded.

There's some very dark stuff here, and it's a testament to the script that the film does not become overwhelmed by it. The Magdalene laundries were awful places, yet this story is not about revenge. I was almost cheering when, at the end, Sixsmith gives one particularly odious nun a piece of his mind. But moments later Philomena accosts him and gives me a slap on the wrist. She does not want revenge or angry confrontation. She just wants the truth. It's a remarkable act of forgiveness, and one that, like Sixsmith, I could not agree with. But then, I'm just another cynical and bitter atheist. I have to say, this film made me angry at myself for being one. And yet it also made me pleased I wasn't a Catholic. Go figure.

Philomena is an incredible and heartfelt story. It's desperately sad, yet never overly sentimental. There's some genuinely funny moments, mainly emanating from the contrast between the wide-eyed and refreshing simplicity of Philomena's world view and the weary wryness of Sixsmith. If you get a chance, see it.


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