Movie review, Philomena starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan

By MILT GROSS | Jul 05, 2014

This 2013 true story is a great movie with a plot that makes you angry at the sisters in a convent and the Americans who bought babies from them.

It also makes you feel very sorry for Judi Dench’s character, Philomena Lee, who as a very young and imprisoned worker at the convent, watched through a barred window as her young son was loaded into a car and driven away from the convent.

I’m no more upset with one denomination than another, as, in my experience, they all have some features that are not Christian -- Christ like. In this case, it was the Roman Catholics, who treated young mothers badly because they had “sinned” in becoming pregnant and having babies. But having one’s baby sold to the highest bigger goes far beyond a normal discipline situation.

Years ago I used to listen on the radio to a Roman Catholic priest in New York City, who presented biblical Christianity in a way far superior than almost anyone else I knew or had heard. Another former priest I knew had become an Episcopal priest, and he was one of the nicest, most honest, and biblical men you’d ever meet.

But, as a college student, I was a security guard for a Roman Catholic retreat, where the forced silence regularly caused the laymen there for the weekend to suffer heart attacks. One of my duties was to watch for laymen suffering heart attacks.

I knew a Baptist preacher, who taught school, but who never really taught school. He spent his days showing movies and slides of various topics. Thankfully, whether his non-teaching was found out or not, he left the school where we had both taught and move out of state to become a used car salesman. I’ve know honest used and new car salespeople, but that occupation has an unsavory reputation, which this school teacher helped it earn.

I won’t relate all the “evil” I’ve seen leaders in various denominations perform, but, as I wrote above, it is not only the Roman Catholic Church with such activities to its credit.

Anyway, at this Irish Catholic convent, a sister told Philomena that her son had been adopted by Americans. Philomena had met the fired BBC journalist Sixsmith, (Steve Coogan) who decided to try to write a book about the situation. He took Philomena to America to try to find the adopted son. They learned he had been a gay man and had died.

The story unfolds with a plot that keeps you glued to the screen, and near the end when they were back at the Irish convent and the rest of the son’s story had unfolded, Philomena told the sister who had been involved in selling her son that she forgave her. Sixsmith stepped near the sister and commented that he would not have forgiven her.

At the end, Sixsmith was so distraught with Philomena’s agony, he said he would not write the story. Philomena said she wanted him to write it, because what had happened should be known by as many people as possible.

An agonizing true tale that should be viewed by as many people as possible.

I highly recommend it.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014

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