(directed by Stephen Frears, 2013)
(**** out of 5)
> As someone who has visited Ireland 13 times (so far!), I have a sense of the iron grip the bonds of tradition and the Catholic Church have on the Irish people.
. Though they have many wonderful characteristics, the Irish are, at heart, a provincial people. Things like gender roles are very strictly codified in Irish culture. Change comes very, very slowly. I was shocked, horrified, DISGUSTED to discover that during my first two visits to the Emerald Isle, we drove right past a giant “Magdalene Laundry” on trips to and from the Cork Airport- a place where the unspeakable bastards of the criminal church kept slave labor until the mid-90’s!
. The church cannot be absolved of this evil. They are Guilty As Charged.
. Thankfully, in telling this powerful true tale of a simple woman enslaved by her faith, whose toddler is kidnapped by the very people who are supposed to be comforting and supporting her, the screenwriters do not pull their punches. It is one of accomplished director Stephen Frears’ very best films. PHILOMENA is a powerfully damning indictment of a criminal enterprise mistaken for a “church”. Judi Dench gives a touching, quirky performance that suggests a three-dimensional being, and not the caricature or stereotypes a lesser director may have let his lead indulge in. Steve Coogan also gives a stellar performance that makes it clear how egregiously I had underestimated him- having erroneously pegged him as simply a “comic actor”. He’s a double threat here: a solid actor giving a fine performance, he was also co-writer of this very literate and fat-free screenplay.
. It is wonderful how this film is full of delightful surprises we don’t see coming, that still ring true. Most fascinating: the way this horrifically wronged woman cannot bring herself to leave the church that so criminally and callously wronged her. It’s BRAINWASHING, people. Philomena has been brainwashed by her tormentors, just as certainly as though she had Stockholm Syndrome. I sympathized with her counterpart- the journalist telling her story, who continually rages against the cruelty and hypocrisy of this evil church. I wanted to see the evil nun responsible for Philomena’s suffering knocked flat on her fat arse- as she so richly deserved.
. Maybe the character of Philomena can forgive, I cannot. I will not. FUCK those fake pious assholes! The fact that they may actually have believed they were doing the right thing changes things not one iota. Adolph Hitler was convinced he was doing the right thing for Germany… History tells a different story.
> Great film!
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