An Oscar play for Judi Dench in which she gets to play spirited, spunky, scrappy. A battle of wits and personality between Dench’s character and the author-journalist played by Steve Coogan (the latter having produced and co-written the script with Jeff Pope). A mother-son “heart” movie from Stephen Frears (The Queen), but with the son, an AIDS-afflicted gay Republican named Michael Hess, missing in the trailer (except in flashbacks, as a small child). Nor is Hess listed as a character on the film’s Wiki page. Is the adult Hess some kind of ghostly phantom in the narrative?

Philomena will debut at the 2013 Venice Film Festival and then the Toronto Film Festival.

Wiki Summary: Martin Sixsmith‘s “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a 50 Year Search” is described as follows: When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent at Roscrea in County Tipperary to be looked after as a fallen woman. She cared for her baby for three years until the Church took him from her and sold him, like countless others, to America for adoption. Coerced into signing a document promising never to attempt to see her child again, she nonetheless spent the next 50 years secretly searching for him, unaware that he was searching for her from across the Atlantic.

“Philomena’s son, renamed Michael Hess, grew up to be a top Washington lawyer and a leading Republican official in the Reagan and Bush administrations. But he was a gay man in a homophobic party where he had to conceal not only his sexuality but, eventually, the fact that he had AIDS. With little time left, he returned to Ireland and the convent where he was born: his desperate quest to find his mother before he died left a legacy that was to unfold with unexpected consequences for all involved.

“‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee‘ is the tale of a mother and a son whose lives were scarred by the forces of hypocrisy on both sides of the Atlantic and of the secrets they were forced to keep. A compelling narrative of human love and loss, Martin Sixsmith’s moving account is heartbreaking [and] ultimately redemptive.”