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Stephen Frears and Judi Dench film grips Venice

Philomena tells the true tale of a teenage girl who falls pregnant in Ireland in 1952 and is packed off to a convent, with her baby son given up for adoption.

A scene from Philomena, starring Judi Dench, left, and Steve Coogan. Courtesy Pathe Productions
A scene from Philomena, starring Judi Dench, left, and Steve Coogan. Courtesy Pathe Productions

The British director Stephen Frears says Pope Francis should watch his tragicomic movie Philomena.

The film, which has taken the Venice Film Festival by storm, tells the true tale of a teenage girl who falls pregnant in Ireland in 1952 and is packed off to a convent, with her baby boy given up for adoption.

“I hope the Pope will see it. He seems a rather good bloke, the Pope, very open,” said Frears, the director of the acclaimed 2006 film The Queen.

The film, starring Judi Dench as the mother Philomena Lee and the comic actor Steve Coogan as the ex-BBC journalist who helps her, drew laughs, tears and rounds of spontaneous applause at its screening in Venice.

“It is a shocking, terrible story and it’s right that it should be told,” said Dench.

“It’s not a polemical attack on the Catholic Church, which would have been an easy thing to do. The script needed comedy because the story itself was so sad,” said Coogan, who co-wrote the screenplay.

“By far, the bigger wrong was the cover-up. The film is a message about not covering things up any more,” Coogan added, at which point Frears repeated: “The Pope should watch it!” – AFP

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