Saturday, January 4, 2014

Philomena

I like movies that capture my heart, and I expected the movie Philomena to do that. It is based on a true story that was common in the 1950's; a young woman gets pregnant out of wedlock and her child is then given up for adoption. But in this tale, the setting is in Ireland and the young woman, a teenager, was enslaved to do laundry for several years at a Nunnery due her sins. The child was then sold by the Nuns for $1,000 to rich Americans. The young mother, a devoted Catholic, had signed an agreement she wouldn't allow for any sort of inquiry into the son's whereabouts, so didn't, for 50 years. Eventually she couldn't contain her feelings so shared the news with her adult daughter. This is how the door opens to begin the search to find the long-lost son.

The story isn't really a very warm and fuzzy story. It showed the power and control of the Catholic Church over these young women, including enslaving them to labor, selling the children, and continuing to lie to them their whole life. The protagonist, Philomena, played by Judi Dench, tried to convey the need to forgive those who did this to her (and many other young women), but there was absolutely no remorse or guilt by those individuals who abused their power. In fact, the Nuns, even today, continued to act as though their behaviors and actions were God-like, which absolutely stunned me.

I left the movie theater frustrated. Philomena's experience and suffering changed nothing. The abuses were so common place and so inconsequential to the Church, that it seemed rather ho-hum and something that is still being swept under the rug.

I was also frustrated with Philomena - she was so accepting of the Church's authority over her life, almost as if she had no power or will within her. She seemed pathetic to me.

The movie is not a feel-good kind of movie. There is no change or growth in anyone for having gone through this experience. There is no happy ending. It is a story that leads to no where.