Is this Oscar favorite the perfect depiction of 2013 Catholicism?
"Philomena," which opens Nov. 27, is already making waves; the warm and witty lead performance by Judi Dench as a quiet, pious woman searching for a son put up for adoption years earlier, is perceived to be among the front-runners for a best actress nomination at the Oscars. The film has already opened in the U.K., where it has performed very well at the box office; stateside, the Weinstein Co.'s lobbying campaign to get the rating for "Philomena" down to a PG-13 was successful, meaning more moviegoers will be able to buy tickets.
The film's prospects, in short, seem bright -- and yet the subject matter is far tougher than a brief description might make it sound. Philomena's son was taken from her against her will by the Catholic nuns nominally caring for her; they are portrayed, in flashbacks and in the film's present, as cruel and dishonest. They conceal information from Philomena as she seeks the truth about what happened to her, years after they forced her into what is effectively indentured servitude as penance for giving birth. The profanity that prompted the film's initial R rating stateside was addressed at a nun.