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.