Sunday, May 8, 2016


Year 8, Day 129 - 5/8/16 - Movie #2,329

BEFORE: Steve Coogan carries over for his fourth film in a row (but fifth this month & year), and I've landed on something for Mother's Day, just as I planned.  My next thematic target will be Father's Day, then the 4th of July.  

THE PLOT:  A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

AFTER: This is another film based on a true story, I think that's three in a row (sort of...), this time about a woman who spent 50 years searching for her son, after the Catholic Church in Ireland forced an adoption when she had a child as a young woman.  It seems her mistake was asking for information from the same people who ran the convent, arranged the adoption, and then made her work at the convent for years in order to pay for it.  

This almost seems like a companion piece to "Spotlight", something that highlights the malfeasances of the Catholic Church, only in Ireland and not the U.S.  The same nuns that were supposedly taking care of her son, and many other kids, while offering a place for "wayward girls" to live and work, did not have her best interests at heart.  Why, because she was a "sinner" and she wasn't as "pure" as the chaste nuns?  How much more judgmental can some people be?  Just because she had unmarried sex, she doesn't "deserve" to raise a child?  

Of course, it was a different time, the 1950's, with a stricter set of morals, but that doesn't really excuse this behavior, the systematic condemnation of an entire class of people, the hubris to claim to know how God wants people to behave.  This is what drives me crazy when I listen to a preacher, whether it's in church or on the subway - how DARE you claim to know what God wants.  Assuming God exists, he (or she) is on a whole different plane, there's no WAY we as petty humans could understand what God wants for us.  The Bible is just a lot of stories and metaphors, and it was written by humans, who are not perfect.

Anyway, I'm getting off track.  Didn't mean to get all anti-religious on Mom's Day.  Philomena connects with an ex-journalist and ex-political advisor who's looking to get back into journalism, and he sees her situation as the sort of human interest story that could get him back in.  So there's an uneasy alliance as they travel to America together, to see if they can track down her son, whose name was probably changed when he was adopted by an American couple.  That's about all I can say about the plot without spoiling anything.  

But it's really about the pair following the trail, because whether her son is successful or penniless, famous or unknown, alive or dead, it's the uncertainty that's the worst thing about the situation.  That and all the lost years that they could have had together.  Sorry to bring everyone down on Mother's Day, but it is what it is.

Also starring Judi Dench (last seen in "Pride & Prejudice"), Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham (last seen in "St. Elmo's Fire"), Peter Hermann, Sean Mahon, Michelle Fairley (last seen in "The Invisible Woman"), Barbara Jefford, Ruth McCabe, Anna Maxwell Martin, Wunmi Mosaku.

RATING: 5 out of 10 home movies

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