Director Stephen Frears (The Queen) teams with Judi Dench and Steve Coogan for this powerful true story of an unmarried Irish-Catholic woman who, decades after being forced by her community to give up her newborn son, embarks on a search to find him with the aid of a BBC reporter.

Special Presentations

Philomena

Stephen Frears

In 1950s Ireland, Catholic authorities shamed thousands of "fallen" Irish women into giving their children up for adoption, with no hope of ever seeing them again. Philomena Lee was one of these women. Stephen Frears tells her story in his new heartfelt drama, adapted by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope from a celebrated book by Martin Sixsmith.

After fifty years of fruitless searching for her son's whereabouts, Philomena solicits the help of recently unemployed — and unapologetically cynical — journalist Sixsmith. Initially, they find nothing but burnt documents and tight-lipped nuns at the Roscrea convent where Philomena spent these pivotal years. But just when they think all hope is lost, Sixsmith sparks up a conversation with a local pub owner, who reveals that the convent was in the baby business, selling them to Catholic American couples who could not have children of their own. This is how an unlikely duo embarks on a journey to Washington, DC in search of a grown man once known as baby Anthony.

Determined to be positive despite the answers that may lie ahead, Philomena shares stories from her past, savouring every moment of her American experience. While her quirks may test Sixmith's patience, he will ultimately prove her biggest supporter.

Showing us her softer side, Dame Judi Dench gives a tour-de-force performance as Philomena, one that is perfectly complemented by Steve Coogan as Sixsmith. True masters of their craft, Dench and Coogan have a natural chemistry onscreen, and their wry humour lifts the film's more sombre moments. Frears beautifully balances these competing tones, crafting a film that illustrates the complexity of the human character. While revealing some of the darkest deeds that the Catholic Church is capable of, Philomena also reminds us of one of its greatest virtues: forgiveness.

MICHÈLE MAHEUX

Screenings

Sun Sep 08

Princess of Wales

Premium
3:30pm
Sun Sep 08

Scotiabank 1

Industry
4:30pm
Mon Sep 09

Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Regular
11:00am