In 1952, 18 year-old Philomena Lee fell pregnant in Ireland. That was the worst thing that could happen to an unmarried teen at the time. Perceived as a “fallen” woman, Philomena was shamed by her community and Catholic authorities to give up her son for adoption to the U.S. when he was three years old. Despite signing a document to never try to find him, Philomena spent the next fifty years searching for him. Eventually she was aided in her search by Martin Sixmith, a BBC reporter who spent five years on the quest. In 2009, he wrote a book about Philomena’s ordeal called “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” .
His powerful book has now been turned into a feature film starring Judi Dench as Philomena and Steve Coogan as Sixmith. The film is also co-written by Coogan and directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen).
The trailer shows Coogan’s Sixmith is a disgraced press secretary who returns to journalism and is a bit of a snob. He’s depressed and even more so after being forced to do “human interest stories” which he loathes. But he begrudgingly gets involved. Despite getting roadblocked by nuns at the convent where she had her baby, Philomena and Martin plod on. The film chronicles this unlikely duo’s journey to Washington, DC in search of a grown man once known as baby Anthony.
The film screened at TIFF and while no Canadian date has been announced, it will likely be open in the next few months – just in time to qualify for awards season.