Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock - something her Irish-Catholic community didn't have the highest opinion of - and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn't allow for any sort of inquiry into the son's whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith (Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.
”Philomena” turns out to be a subtly told tale of tragedy and redemption, with several intriguing plot twists along the way” - Read full review from Salon
“Philomena is a cathartic drama, especially for anybody who has been wounded in one way or another by the institutional Catholic church” - Read full review from Spirituality and Practice
Listen to CBC interview with Philomena
Questions For Discussion
- How would you describe the relationship between Philomena and Martin? How does it change over the course of the movie?
- Was Martin’s righteous indignation at the Catholic church’s behaviour redemptive?
- Was Philomena’s forgiveness of the church for taking away her son genuine or naive and conflict-avoiding?
- Is the movie potentially cathartic for those who have been angry at the church for its many distortions of its core message?
- Which stance was more effective: Martin’s anger or Philomena’s forgiveness?
- Steve Coogan (producer, co-writer, actor who plays Martin) believes that good movies use comedy to make the most of meaty, tragic stories. How is this so? What other movies combine drama and comedy well?
- When have you recently felt the healing medicine of forgiveness?
- Which Scripture texts / stories are you reminded of when you think of the lives of Anthony/Michael, Philomena and Martin?
- How does the cinematography help flesh out the themes of the movie?
- In many ways this is a road movie. What role does the car play in moving the plot along and in developing the characters?
- Is it possible to have faith once you've left the church?