Thursday, January 09, 2014

Philomena

Judi Dench and the real Philomena


I'm told the film is anti Catholic.

A couple of friends stopped by during the holidays and raved about the film Philomena, condescendingly adding, "but you wouldn't like it."

"Why do you say that," I asked?

"Because it is anti Catholic."

I had already read reviews which claimed it was anti Catholic but asked the couple why they felt it was.  After explaining the plot in their own words I remarked I didn't think the film sounded anti Catholic at all.  In fact just that week I had watched a similar story on PBS - an episode of the Fr. Brown Mystery series about mean nuns who took babies away from unwed mothers.  They weren't interested in what I had to say however.

This past week I watched an interview Charlie Rose aired with the director of the film, Stephen Frears.  The story is taken from a well known investigative book by journalist Martin Sixsmith.  For my friends it appears the film may have been the first they heard of this particular story,  despite the fact most Catholic bloggers, as well as critics of Catholic teaching, know about the Magdalene Laundries, while taking into consideration the original story of Philomena was well known before the film.  

Though my friends weren't interested in my opinion, I still tried to explain to them that telling the truth about past problems in the Church is not necessarily anti Catholic.  From the trailers, interviews, and reviews I've seen on this film, I see nothing anti Catholic.  It strikes me as a beautiful story of a mother's search for her son.  Telling the truth is not anti Catholic.

Though the public protests aren't nearly as large as those against the 1994 film "Priest" from director Antonia Bird, the defensiveness on the part of Catholics always helps to promote such films.   Oddly enough, "Priest" turned out to be rather prophetic, considering the clergy scandals which have since been revealed.  I wonder if some of those decrying the film "Priest" and "Philomena" are the same ones casting suspicion on the orthodoxy of Pope Francis?

I'm not running out to the theater, I can wait to see Philomena when it is released on video.  Yesterday a copy was released on YouTube, but was taken down a few hours later.  I could have watched it online.  I'm content to wait.  BTW - I know the ending.

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