A closer look at…Philomena

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.


Philomena is rated 12A for infrequent strong language and moderate sex references. The film is available to buy on DVD or to stream on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Labour spin doctor Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), fired after an unforgivable political blunder, is down in the dumps. Once a journalist, he vaguely considers writing a book, though scoffs when someone suggests he look for a ‘human interest story’. He looks down his nose at this kind of ‘soft’ journalism – but then, just such a story falls right into his lap.

He hears about Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), a retired nurse from Ireland, who after a lifetime of silence has just told her daughter (Anna Maxwell Martin) about the baby boy she gave up for adoption fifty years before. A teenaged single mother, she was taken in by nuns who forcibly separated her from her son. Now all she has is a faded photograph of little Anthony, and a heavy burden of guilt and regret which her continued belief in God can’t relieve. She’s willing to share her story with Martin, if he will help her find out what happened to Anthony.

The search takes them to America, and into unfamiliar territory for both the cynical Martin and the frightened – but still faithful – Philomena.

Dig deeper

  • Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? Which scenes or moments did you find particularly striking or memorable?
  • What did you make of the two central performances from Judi Dench and Steve Coogan? How were these different from, and similar to, roles they have previously been known for? How do each of them go about balancing humour and drama in their performance?
  • What emotional journey did Philomena take you on, and how would you describe your emotional state at the end? Did you know anything about Philomena Lee beforehand, and if so, how did your knowledge affect your experience of the film?
  • We find out fairly early on in the film that Anthony – Michael Hess – has died. What makes this scene particularly painful, and how does it alter the tone of the story? What becomes the emotional focus for Philomena and Martin once a reunion is no longer on the cards?
  • How, if at all, do Philomena and Martin change as people over the course of the film? What are some of the key turning points for each of them? How would you characterise their relationship, and what impact does each of them have on the other?


‘”Human interest” is a euphemism for stories about vulnerable, weak-minded, ignorant people.’ – Martin

  • How does the film present Martin, and the world he comes from? To what extent does the film as a whole seem to uphold his views, and to what extent does it subvert them? What might be the value of vulnerability, simplicity and even ignorance, in contrast to the values of Martin’s world?
  • In what ways does the film challenge and satirise conventions of journalism? Why do we want ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ and straightforward conclusions in our news stories, and to what extent is this possible, or helpful?
  • Are there any straightforward ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’ in Philomena, and what is it about them that the film particularly upholds or condemns? What might be some of the problems with categorising a real person as a straightforward hero or villain? What new challenges are created if we get rid of these categories?

‘Who are the goodies? Who are the baddies? How does it end? It’s got to be really happy or really sad.’ – Sally (Michelle Fairley)


  • Both Steve Coogan and Martin Sixsmith (the real and the fictional) find themselves telling an extremely private story about a living person. What moral responsibilities does this give them towards Philomena Lee, and the other real people in the story? How – and in your view, how well – do they go about living up to these responsibilities?
  • As the full extent of the nuns’ actions was revealed, was your response closer to Martin’s or Philomena’s, and why? What consequences do you think there ought to have been for the perpetrators, and why? What would real justice look like in a situation like Philomena’s?
  • What arguments does Martin offer against belief in God, and how valid do you think his points are? What enables Philomena to hold on to her faith, and do you think she was right to have done so? What view of God do the nuns have, and what role, if any, does Jesus play in the story?

‘Quid pro quo. It literally means “this for that”.’ – Martin

  • How does Philomena explore and subvert the idea of ‘quid pro quo’? What is the value of justice and of righteous anger? What is the value of forgiveness and grace? Which force in your view is more powerful, and how does each shape the future?



Published by

Sophie Lister

Damaris resources bring films to new audiences, start conversations, and enrich lives. Find out more at www.damarismedia.com Here at the Damaris Film Blog, we publish regular discussion guides to help you make the most of the latest cinema releases.

198 thoughts on “A closer look at…Philomena”

  1. Pingback: cheque drops
  2. Pingback: Handmade
  3. Pingback: free download
  4. Pingback: Skrota bilen
  5. Pingback: trump
  6. Pingback: Skrota bilen
  7. Pingback: VA Home Loans
  8. Pingback: lig tv
  9. Pingback: testoxyl cypionate
  10. Pingback: Lenzen Bestellen
  11. Pingback: mark curry
  12. Pingback: GVK BIO
  13. Pingback: cheap beach chairs
  14. Pingback: tubelight movie
  15. Pingback: seo utah
  16. Pingback: Mgtow mens rights
  17. Pingback: SIMAD UNIVERSITY
  18. Pingback: sattamatka
  19. Pingback: live adults cam
  20. Pingback: cpns 2017
  21. Pingback: DMPK Studies
  22. Pingback: ixfap.ru
  23. Pingback: ulconsul.ru
  24. Pingback: modatube.ru
  25. Pingback: dextub.ru
  26. Pingback: rdk-shop.ru
  27. Pingback: alizum.ru
  28. Pingback: anal.alipornx.com
  29. Pingback: nude.freeanalz.com
  30. Pingback: manitub.ru
  31. Pingback: xunxuz.ru
  32. Pingback: sex.freeanalz.com
  33. Pingback: teen.freeanalz.com
  34. Pingback: aliarabsex.com
  35. Pingback: zumtub.ru
  36. Pingback: alixxxhard.com
  37. Pingback: wlw.su
  38. Pingback: maxitub.ru
  39. Pingback: turismtube.ru
  40. Pingback: sexviptube.com
  41. Pingback: mp3prof.com
  42. Pingback: xaxazu.ru
  43. Pingback: mixfap.ru
  44. Pingback: milf.freeanalz.com
  45. Pingback: edemtube.ru
  46. Pingback: cosmo-tube.ru
  47. Pingback: sks-tech.ru
  48. Pingback: m.alixxxhard.com
  49. Pingback: komdeti.ru
  50. Pingback: turist-tube.ru
  51. Pingback: izotertube.ru
  52. Pingback: alisexnude.com
  53. Pingback: reshaemtub.ru
  54. Pingback: Click here
  55. Pingback: www
  56. Pingback: My homepage
  57. Pingback: mine site
  58. Pingback: Video site
  59. Pingback: Source
  60. Pingback: More
  61. Pingback: Video link
  62. Pingback: See me
  63. Pingback: Web
  64. Pingback: Website
  65. Pingback: See video
  66. Pingback: Homepage
  67. Pingback: Anonymous
  68. Pingback: url site
  69. Pingback: Pix link
  70. Pingback: See link
  71. Pingback: Origin
  72. Pingback: Go site
  73. Pingback: feed
  74. Pingback: Link
  75. Pingback: See site
  76. Pingback: Site tuel-spb ru
  77. Pingback: More alipornx com
  78. Pingback: xvideos irkburo ru
  79. Pingback: See me nf-rielt ru
  80. Pingback: 3d Young Incest
  81. Pingback: Bdsm Incest Comics
  82. Pingback: Family Incest Porn
  83. Pingback: Incest Sex Art
  84. Pingback: 3d Incest Stories
  85. Pingback: Sis Fucked Bro
  86. Pingback: Incest Porn
  87. Pingback: Animated Incest
  88. Pingback: Mommas Pussy
  89. Pingback: Incest 3d Gallery
  90. Pingback: Mom And Son Sex
  91. Pingback: Incest Family 3d
  92. Pingback: Drawn Incest Pics
  93. Pingback: Family Naturism
  94. Pingback: 3d Incest Comics
  95. Pingback: 3d Drawn Incest
  96. Pingback: 3d Incest Pictures
  97. Pingback: Mouth Fucked
  98. Pingback: 3d Incest
  99. Pingback: See link seowm ru
  100. Pingback: www babacams com
  101. Pingback: alipornx com
  102. Pingback: 3D Inceste Comique
  103. Pingback: Web xunxuz ru
  104. Pingback: incestu porno
  105. Pingback: incest 3d toons
  106. Pingback: mature incest porn
  107. Pingback: drawn sex comics
  108. Pingback: 3d Taboo Porn

Comments are closed.