A true story that tugs at the heartstrings

Philomena starring JUDI DENCH as Philomena Lee and STEVE COOGAN as Martin Sixsmith. Picture: PA Photo/Alex Bailey/Pathe Productions Limited.

Philomena starring JUDI DENCH as Philomena Lee and STEVE COOGAN as Martin Sixsmith. Picture: PA Photo/Alex Bailey/Pathe Productions Limited.

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Dame Judi Dench looks certain to get a seventh Oscar nomination for her tour-de-force portrayal of a guilt-stricken mother.

Philomena is a compelling performance of deep emotion based on a true story that deftly tugs the heartstrings without resorting to emotional manipulation or cloying sentiment.

National treasure Dench is complemented by Steve Coogan as a cynical and world-weary journalist, who initially scoffs at the suggestion that he should pen an article about the matriarch and her heartbreaking ordeal.

A tender and unexpectedly touching relationship forms between these two characters from different generations and backgrounds.

The incredible road trip begins when Jane Lee (Anna Maxwell Martin) discovers her mother Philomena (Dench) fell pregnant as a teenager in 1952 Ireland and was forced to give up the baby to the sisters at Roscrea Abbey.

Jane pitches the story to former Labour advisor turned BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan).

After a reality check from his wife Kate (Simone Lahbib), Martin agrees to help Philomena track down her boy.