Scott Anderson’s review published on Letterboxd:
When it came to the film Philomena, I will admit I was guilty of doing something totally nonsensical, and yet I am sure I am not alone with this: I judged it being nominated for awards without even seeing it. It was a natural reaction that I can't explain, I knew very little about the film and yet when they announced its nomination for Best Picture I said "Really? That movie?". Now that I have went on the journey with these characters, I can officially say yes, absolutely, that movie. Philomena is worthy of the recognition.
The story is true, which makes it all the more heartbreaking and incredible. Philomena Lee became pregnant at a young age out of wedlock, and she was sent by her father to stay at the Sean Ross Abbey in Ireland. After the girls gave birth to their children, they were forced to work there to pay off the debt accumulated through their stay, and during this time without any warning they would send the kids away to families willing to adopt them. Philomena went 50 years without seeing or knowing anything about her long lost child until journalist Martin Sixsmith was willing to write a story about the ordeal and, hopefully, reunite mother and son.
This is a film that is carried along splendidly by the performances of both Steve Coogan and of course the brilliant Judi Dench, and also a top notch screenplay that hits all the right notes for a beautifully paced 90 minutes. The writing finds a perfect balance between moments of extremely clever humor and also the very touching and heartfelt sequences focusing on a woman that has lived her whole life with a noticeable void in her soul.
I obviously won't reveal what becomes of their journey, but I can without a doubt suggest to anyone that it is well worth the ride. Perhaps I will think twice a year from now when a film I am yet to see is announced as a major awards player, because the selection of Philomena was a pretty darn good one.