Stephen Frears' next film, “Philomena,” arrives in the U.S. at the end of this month, with a new, slightly spoiler-y clip landing online. Having done the rounds of festivals in the U.S. and opened in Europe already, film has stirred up a certain amount of (reasonably genteel) controversy. It tells the true story of an Irishwoman (Judi Dench), searching America for the child she was forced by a nunnery to give up for adoption as a young, unwed mother 50 years before, who is aided by Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan, capping an amazingly busy year), an ex-politician who wrote the book that formed the basis for the film.
Now the nunnery in Roscrea, Tipperary, has come forward to deny that it ever, contrary to what the film suggests, attempted to cover up the records of the adoption by destroying files and deceiving those who came asking questions. Sister Julie, from Roscrea, told Catholic magazine The Tablet (via The Independent) that the movie “does not tell the whole truth and in many ways is very misleading.” Though she does concede that the filmmakers did advise that they would be adding some scenes for dramatic purposes.
“The film company confirmed to us in writing at an early stage of production that a second meeting with Sr Hildegarde (which never occurred in reality) would be incorporated into the film and dramatic licence was the reason given to us,“ Sister Julie said.
The film, of course, has a pretty obvious reason for telling the story this way: it would be hard to garner acclaim for a movie in which Judi Dench goes to a nunnery, looks up her son in their well-kept, publicly accessible records, and then goes and visits him without a hitch (although some critics will praise anything Dench does, so who knows). You can see for yourselves when “Philomena” is released on November 27th.