Philomena (2013)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Philomena</strong> (2013)

(In French, On TV, November 2018) In fiction, searching for long-lost family secrets is fun and exciting and fruitful as the unlikeliest of thread lead to bigger and bigger revelations. In reality, those family secrets usually lead nowhere (as people don’t remember or are dead) or to unsatisfying places (as in terrible secrets, or conversely making much of what turns out to be mundane material). Occasionally, though, you do get real-life mysteries that end up like fiction, and that’s the story that Philomena ends up telling. It starts as a disgraced British journalist is contacted by an older woman with a story to tell about how her child was taken away from her and given up for adoption. Where is that child now? And who made this happen? Our two protagonists’ investigation eventually takes them to the United States, where they discover in rapid succession that the long-lost son was an influential closeted Republican, and that our journalist had met him years before. There’s a little bit more to the story, but Philomena is more than the result of the investigation: It’s about an unlikely buddy road movie, calling out injustice, discovering unfinished facets of history and very good performance from Steve Coogan (maintaining a grip on his showboating tendencies) and Judi Dench as the eponymous Philomena. Well-executed with a satisfying (yet tragic) mystery at its core, Philomena is a decent drama that may win over even skeptics.

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