Philomena is based on a non-fiction book, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith. It’s a story about an Irish woman played by Judi Dench who had her child taken away from her by force by catholic nuns. Her journey to find her son captivated me – her visits to the convent where she lived as a teenager, her travel to the U.S and the people she met along the way. Her son’s journey to find his mom, his desire to get back to his roots and his search for happiness touched my heart.
Not a fan of drama, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see this movie, but I’m glad I did and I highly recommend it. I loved the character of Martin Sixsmith played by Steve Coogan. He was funny, snobbish, rude, kind, realistic and persistent. An astute observer, Martin is determined to find the truth behind all the cover up. After all who would dare question the sanctity of elderly nuns who devoted their entire life to doing good or so it seemed. But soon the walls crumble, the façade is punctured and the truth is revealed.
The story is so much bigger than Philomena. It is about a government that failed her. It is about religious establishments that will make every possible effort to brainwash their students and forbid them to think for themselves and ask questions. The nuns are brainwashed into thinking that having a child out of wedlock is a sin and that you must be punished for your sin. At times, Philomena is like a doormat - she doesn’t like to raise her voice and doesn’t want to step on any toes in order to seek the truth. Even though she knows the nuns did her wrong, she still has a difficult time accepting that they destroyed her life in exchange for money.
Towards the end of the story, Philomena tells Martin that don’t blame the new nuns and the establishment. They have changed. But have they? I think they are forced to change because today they must abide by civil laws. If there were no civil laws and all government was guided by religious laws, we would all be in big trouble. The only way to protect the innocent is to have separation of church and state.