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Stephen Frears, 2013


Martin Sixsmith’s story centres on the meeting between himself, a former BBC correspondent, and the unworldly Irishwoman of the title. Judi Dench plays Philomena Lee, whose baby son was taken away in her youth by Catholic nuns. Sixsmith is a man of the world; hers is the world according to Mills & Boon.

Yet it is Philomena who has lessons in life for the cynical journo played by Steve Coogan (who also co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay). A touching performance from Dame Judi injects just the right dose of humour – and there’s even a turn from a villainous nun.

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