MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -3

Steve Coogan, Judi Dench, Michelle Fairley, Mare Winningham. Drama. Directed by Stephen Frears.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Martin Sixsmith, an atheistic, world-weary political journalist, picks up the story of an Irish Catholic woman's search for her son, taken from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent. Together, they journey to America in search of the boy, now a man. Along the way, they discover Philomenaís son had become a political advisor to Ronald Reagan and that he had been a closeted gay.

Based on a true story, the film focuses on the cruelty of an order of nuns and how they kept this woman from her child as a form of punishment for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Both mother and son tried to find one another, but the convent withheld any helpful information.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I suspect the filmmakersí two main reasons for bringing this story to the cinema revolve around the fact that it justifies a gay lifestyle and it exposes yet another evil done in the name of religion. When moviemakers take on a social issue, itís like a pit bull that wonít let go. And, oh how they love to denounce organized religion. So, if you attend Philomena, be prepared to see men kiss and nuns dispatch cruelty with utmost vigor.

Ultimately, it does not attack faith in God, but it does its best to belittle a group of misled nuns. Since this has been a proven fact, I canít defend these women. But what about the nuns and other women of God who have given their lives to relieve the misery of others? Seldom in this era are such devout people featured in movies. And what would a social-themed film be without an attack on the Republican Party? Bad old Republicans. Hiss, boo. So, while the story is involving, the dialogue witty, often profound, and Ms. Denchís performance award-worthy, we conservative Christian types are supposed to turn the other cheek when it comes to a secular view concerning the gay lifestyle or the inerrancy of the Bible.

But there is an upside to the filmís negative portrait of religious folk. The main character is the exception to those who act on the law, forgetting Christís greatest commands. She is devout in her faith, even to the point of standing up to the atheist concerning Godís existence, and being able to forgive someone who has committed an injustice that affected her entire life. This example of Christís teaching put into practice should be a lesson for the faithful and the not so.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
BBC Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: caught the s-word two times and the f-word twice.

Profanity: I caught no misuse of Godís name.

Violence: None

Sex: t is implied that a young couple sleep together; she becomes pregnant; a gay couple is featured, along with the two men seen kissing several times; a childbirth is seen, including a great deal of screaming.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some drinking.

Other: The nuns at the convent are referred to as the Sisters of Little Mercy.

Running Time: 98 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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