Stories of our Lives



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.

IMDB link     trailer

”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

  1. How would you describe the relationship between Philomena and Martin? How does it change over the course of the movie?

  2. Was Martin’s righteous indignation at the Catholic church’s behaviour redemptive?

  3. Was Philomena’s forgiveness of the church for taking away her son genuine or naive and conflict-avoiding?

  4. Is the movie potentially cathartic for those who have been angry at the church for its many distortions of its core message?

  5. Which stance was more effective: Martin’s anger or Philomena’s forgiveness?

  6. 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?

  7. When have you recently felt the healing medicine of forgiveness?

  8. Which Scripture texts / stories are you reminded of when you think of the lives of Anthony/Michael, Philomena and Martin?

  9. How does the cinematography help flesh out the themes of the movie?

  10. In many ways this is a road movie. What role does the car play in moving the plot along and in developing the characters?

  11. Is it possible to have faith once you've left the church?

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