Film review: Philomena

Going by what we have seen in films that are either documentaries or based on true events, from Deliver Us from Evil to The Magdalene Sisters, we can say one thing with certainty: few institutions have hurt its own members more than the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Ireland.

Whether through complicity by keeping quiet about sexual abuse or by decree that single, teenage girls who fell pregnant had to do penance (hard labor, seven days a week, for free) at a Magdalene laundry and be separated from their children, the things we have seen in films have made us wonder whether the church in Ireland has any shame at all.

For this reason, the ending of Philomena, about an elderly woman who, 50 years after giving birth to a healthy boy and was not allowed to find him after he had been adopted and taken abroad, is not entirely satisfying, as we want the church to get its comeuppance but are left wanting.

Perhaps that is an unfair expectation. After all, the film is based on real events, and many of the twists and turns of the narrative are remarkable enough without any additional embroidering for the sake of giving the audience a happy ending. In other words, it is not the film’s fault the church and its authoritative sisters don’t get punished — besides, perhaps the events depicted here will pack an even harder punch than if the unjust had been sufficiently reprimanded — but the passivity of the woman at the center of the story can be a bit awkward.

To read the full review, visit The Prague Post.

(Still of Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena. © 2013 – The Weinstein Company)