Today I saw the movie, "Philomena," after a friend suggested I go. It is based on an investigative book, "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee." I didn't want to see it at first as I was told it was anti-Catholic but then I decided to see for myself. Did I think it was anti-Catholic? Yes, I did and I thought it was anti-belief- in -God as well. I thought the acting was excellent and the story, since it's true, deserves to be told, but it could have been done differently, more respectfully. (After reading Bill Donohue's article-"Debunking Philomena," I would have to say it's fictionalized truth.) And I certainly didn't like when the actor Steve Coogan (playing journalist Martin Sixsmith) states in the movie, "F---ing Catholics!" That should have been eliminated from the script, that was crass and unnecessary and yes, anti-Catholic. That offended me as a Catholic.
The story tells the real life drama of Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who was forced to give up her toddler for adoption in a convent in the 1950's after he was born out-of-wedlock. Decades later, (over 50 years) Philomena consents to go in search of her son (who she has never stopped thinking of) with journalist Martin Sixsmith. What transpires is very interesting. She does find closure at the end of the movie and the movie is engrossing and has won many awards.
However, as one writer (CNN) mentioned, "The film doesn't mention that in 1952 Ireland both a mother and child's life would have been utterly ruined by an out-of-wedlock birth and the nuns are actually giving both a chance at a fresh start, that both enjoyed." Of course the nuns at the center of the movie, who apparently put up for adoption children born out of wedlock are portrayed in a one sided way. Many of these children were sent to America, without ever knowing their biological mothers and there's no question it's a sad story and those adoptions should have been handled differently as well as future inquiries. But the fact is Philomena, in real life, went on to become a nurse and have a career and family and her son who was adopted by a wealthy American family went on to a successful career as well.
But there are subtle ways that anti-Catholic dialogue and attitudes creep into the movie, alittle here, alittle there. And at one point, Steve Coogan (an atheist), who is playing the journalist Martin, who is also an atheist, compares God to a terrorist. That offended me as a believer. So atheistic views seep into the movie as well.
Some good is coming of the movie as the real Philomena Lee has begun an initiative (The Philomena Project) to reunite Irish parents with their children, seperated by oversees adoptions such as portrayed in the movie.
Judi Dench was excellent in the role portraying Philomena. And those are my impressions after seeing this controversial movie, but I'm not a film critic, just a believer in God, who thinks religious views and beliefs, should be treated more respectfully, in all art forms.
UPDATE: Philomena meets Pope Francis
To all unbelievers I quote the "Cloud of Unknowing"
Thought cannot comprehend God. And so, I prefer to abandon all I can know, choosing rather to love God whom I cannot know. Though we cannot know God, we can love God. By love God may be touched and embraced, never by thought.
I would add that we can come to know aspects of God through love as the mystical saints attest to.