There are people out there that will argue that a film like ‘Philomena’ is another attack on the Catholic Church, as it strives to paint church practices from the past in a negative light. While that may in fact be a part of the message that others will take from this film, it is also a film that highlights the struggles of living silently with your past and how hard it can be to overcome that.
The story of how an Irish woman lived for 50 years with the loss of her son who was forcibly adopted while living in an abbey highlights not the negative practices of the catholic Church, which were widespread throughout the world at the time, but brings to light the fact that hearing about things like this can negatively skew our views in the here and now.
Dame Judi Dench portrays the aforementioned Philomena Lee, who, on the 50th birthday of the son that she lost, decides anew that she wants to try and track him down. In order to do so, she winds up in the hands of Steve Coogan’s Martin Sexsmith, former public sector employ who is moving back to the private sector.
While Dench was quite warranted in her nomination for a Best Actress Academy Award, and her struggles to deal with new surroundings while dealing with old hurts are symbolic of this, I truly feel that the star of this film is in fact Coogan’s turn as Sexsmith, but that might be due to my thoughts on organized religion as a whole as to why I lined up with him.
‘Philomena’ tells a singular story that highlights larger issues, but does so in such a manner that leaves you wondering if more stories like this have been resolved, and if so, were they done so in happier confines than how the story ends here.
It is quite clear why this film is up for four Academy Awards this weekend, with nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score to go along with Dench’s Best Actress. It might surprise in a couple of categories, but it is definitely worth a watch at home with loves ones.
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