The focus of this film is not a sugary pancake for Philomena Lee, played by Judi Dench, who was shipped off to a camp doing laundry every day, disgusted by her father that she was pregnant. She had a kid of her own she named Anthony, whom she only got to see an hour a day. The Nuns of this camp decided to have him for adoption when he reached two years old, not just without Phil having any say in it, but barely even knowing. She didn't even know afterward who his adopted parents were, and even worse, she may never get the chance because of the same Nuns destroying the files of these people, to try to not be seen as evil disgraces. Philomena was also mistreated at the camp, as you may have already guessed, but even after all they did to her, she tries her best to not hold a grudge. Some people say that a grudge only hurts yourself. That's only half true. You hold it for revenge, and your foe should at least know how you feel. 50 years later, Phil wants to multi task: make her story into, well, a published story, Martin Sixsomething played by Steve Coogan helping her for payment, and trying to go beyond the destroyed files and find her dear Anthony with her own hands. The engine in this film is what Phil is hoping Anthony has been through all these years and our anticipation of the plot: Does he remember her, or at least think about her? Is he still alive? Did he change his name? Does he remember he was born in Ireland?
Generally, with a pair group like Coogan and Dench, who have diverse opinions about God, grudges, and just about everything, that there'd be a stupid breakup for no reason. Think again. As events take place, Martin warms up to Phil's story as much as us. At the end of the film, their opposite opinions is actually a very good ingredient, showing two sides of how to treat the antagonist that are on the same side.