Judi-Dench-and-Steve-Coogan-in-PhilomenaStephen Frears, the Oscar-nominated director behind one of my favourite films of all time*, returns behind the camera this year to reunite with Judi Dench for the bittersweet comedy, Philomena.

Due to be released towards the end of the year, the film stars Dench in the titular role, with Steve Coogan starring opposite as Martin Sixsmith, a journalist who helps Dench track down her long-lost son. With its release inching closer on the horizon, we’ve now got our first look at the leading duo, and here’s to hoping that the trailer will be following shortly.

Philomena is the true story of one mother’s search for her lost son.

Falling pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena was sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a “fallen woman”. When her baby was only a toddler, he was taken away by the nuns for adoption in America. Philomena spent the next fifty years searching for him in vain.

Then she met Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary political journalist who happened to be intrigued by her story. Together they set off for America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena’s son, but also create an unexpectedly close bond between them.

The film is a compelling narrative of human love and loss and ultimately celebrates life. It is both funny and sad and concerns two very different people, at different stages of their lives, who help each other and show that there is laughter even in the darkest places.

The book “The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee” was published in 2009. It acted as a catalyst for thousands of adopted Irish children and their ‘shamed’ mothers to come forward to tell their stories. Many are still searching for their lost families.

Coogan co-wrote the screenplay with Jeff Pope (Mrs. Biggs), based on the true-story book, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. And along with co-writing the script, Coogan also produces alongside Tracey Seaward (The Queen) and Gabrielle Tana (Coriolanus).

Frears is reuniting with Dench here having previously worked with her on Mrs. Henderson Presents a few years back and Saigon: Year of the Cat way back in 1983. His more recent work has seen him somewhat out of favour amongst critics, with his most recent Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight failing to win over the majority of critics at its Cannes debut, following last year’s Lay the Favorite.

But with an intriguingly-matched leading duo in the form of Dench and Coogan, here’s to hoping that Philomena will represent a return to form for Frears.

Philomena is set to be released in the UK and Ireland on 1st November. No word yet on a US release date, but I’ll be interested to find out when it will debut across the Atlantic. In the meantime, here’s our first look at the film, with a shot of our leading stars.



*If you were wondering, his film that’s one of my favourites is of course High Fidelity.