PHILOMENA is based on the true story of an elderly Irish woman who went searching for the son she was forced to give up for adoption 50 years before. The movie is touching and funny, wise and unforgettable, one of the most satisfying movies of the year.
Philomena's grown daughter (speaking to a fired journalist): I know this woman. she had a baby when she was a teenager. She's kept it a secret for 50 years.
Martin: You're talking about a human interest story. I don't do those.
Daughter: why not?
Steve Coogan plays the cynical and sophisticated Martin Sixsmith, a suddenly unemployed journalist who needs work. He's an unlikely person to help Judi Dench as Philomena, the naive, uneducated woman who's never gotten over the pain of losing her son. Nuns in the convent where she was forced to live and work as an unwed teenage mother sold her baby into adoption.
Martin and Philomena first meet over dinner.
Martin: How are you?
Philomena: I had a hip replacement last year, Martin. Titanium, so it won't rust.
Martin: Otherwise they'd have to oil you like the Tin Man.
Philomena: Is that right?
Martin: Oh no.
Daughter: He's just joking, Mom.
Martin and Philomena are like oil and water, but he needs to write a popular article and she really can use his skills to find her son.
Philomena: I only know want to know if he's all right.
Martin: My guess is that Anthony was adopted and sent to America.
Philomena: I think I would like to go….I'd like to know if Anthony ever thought of me. I've thought of him every day.
So the cynical man and the naive woman go off to America. She rattles on telling him the plots of romance novels he doesn't care about, and she'd rather watch a goofy movie than visit the Lincoln memorial when the search lands them in Washington, D.C.
Martin on the phone to a friend: She told four people today that they were one in a million. What are the chances of that?
Philomena to Mexican chef: I've never been to Mexico. I hear it's lovely apart from the kidnappings.
Though Philomena is clueless in some ways, she's also wise and compassionate and has a thing or two to teach Martin and us at the same time.
I don't want to spoil anything by telling what happens and how she reacts, but suffice it to say that Judi Dench makes Philomena a fully human character whose good nature puts most of us to shame.
Watching her story is an uplifting experience.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now firstname.lastname@example.org