Judi Dench has emerged as one of the finest actresses alive, in films like “Shakespeare in Love”, “Iris” and “”Notes on a Scandal”. With her performance in “Philomena”, she reaches a new plateau, playing a real-life Irish woman named Philomena Lee, who had sex fifty years ago, gave birth to a child at a local convent, and watched the nuns give her son away. Now, years later, she wants to find out what happened to her son. In doing so, she hires a journalist named Martin (a delightful Steve Coogan) who sees her story as an opportunity to revive his career. Dench, in her Oscar nominated performance, is a marvel. It’s a joy and a privilege to watch her inhabit the character of Philomena. If you’ve never read anything about this woman’s story, the film will have plenty of surprises for you. Some actors seem to be courting award attention when they play a real life character, and many have been rewarded for their efforts. I get the impression that Dench is simply a dedicated actress whose only goal is to make us believe she is the character she’s impersonating. It’s safe to say that she succeeds with flying colors here. I’d watch “Philomena” again just to savor her delightful performance.