Philomena Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Steven Frears

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

There is no doubt that ‘Philomena’ should go all the way to the Oscars. Film critics are a cynical bunch but audience reaction in Venice to the world premiere of Director Steven Frears ‘Philomena’ was overwhelming; tears, laughter, anger, disbelief and massive applause. Judi Dench says this was a story that had to be told. She plays the difficult roll of Philomena, an Irish woman who has an extraordinary, very sad and true story we need to hear. It was first published in Martin Sixsmith’s (Steve Coogan) book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee”. Steve Coogan, who stars as Sixsmith, the experienced, skeptical journalist who did the original investigative journalism and wrote the book, co wrote the screenplay with Jeff Pope. Sensitively treading tricky political ground, it exposes a very dark side of the Roman Catholic Church, poignantly highlighting the tragic fallout of anti-homosexuality and misplaced indoctrination. The story crosses two continents, places a dagger to the heart of Roman Catholic Church doctrine and has a universal message. Fortunately, Steve Coogan and co-writer have infused the story with just enough humour to ‘sugar the pill’, a very difficult filmmaking exercise to pull off successfully without trivializing the message.

Philomena’s fifty- year search for her son is a tale of heartbreak, anguish, love, faith, anger, forgiveness and redemption. At the centre of the story is the Roman Catholic Church’s very strict stance on celibacy and the doctrinal belief that sex outside marriage is a sin. Young girls in Ireland who got pregnant (irregardless of how) were ostracized by their families and society and had to seek refuge with the Roman Catholic nuns. We now discover that this came at a heavy price. Many young girls (some as young as 14) died in childbirth, trying to deliver babies in very inhumane circumstances, while many others were forced to sign away their babies, renouncing all claims and never to see or know about them again. In repayment for being taken in by the convents, they were basically indentured as slaves and forced into years of hard labour as repayment. Cruelly, they were allowed to spend only a brief hour per day with their babies until a suitable family was found to adopt them, just long enough to form a permanent bond. The convents secretly sold the babies to wealthy families who could afford their price.

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Philomena Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Steven Frears

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