Wk 4: Philomena

Hello Movie Fans!

The film Philomena*, 2013, directed by Stephen Frears is based on a true story, Philomena (Judi Dench), a young girl when during a time was heavily frown upon by Irish-Catholic community to have a baby outside of marriage. The story starts her young life at the Sean Ross Abbey for unwed Irish girls. A young girl without means, her survival in harsh reality of sisters’ rules and working in a laundry room for four years and seven days a week. Visiting her child, Anthony Lee, for an hour a day. Flashes forward fifty years later, Philomena finally decides to tell someone about her earlier years at the convent and where her adoptive son may be now.  

Philomena meeting with BBC correspondent, Martin Sixsmith, through her daughter become an unlikely pair to investigate her son’s whereabouts. With her story and Martin research skills they agree to make a journey to the United States to find answers. The relationships between Philomena and Martin was not always on friendly footing. Martin is cynical of life, not believing in god’s existence while Philomena is hopeful in life with a resilient catholic faith. They are opposite spectrum, but their weakness and strengths balance each other in solving life’s problems. They are both their anchors. In their research, a film footage of Anthony Lee (Rename Michael Hess, a lawyer and senior official in the Reagan administration) leads them back to Sean Ross Abbey in Ireland where Philomena finds closure.

The overall cinematography mirrors the emotions of Philomena dealing with her present and past lives in a running dialogue. When Philomena reflects to her thoughts on Anthony, the film cuts away to a portal of 8mm color film footage showing the different stages of Anthony life in Ireland and United States. It’s an altered state, truly brilliant in showcasing Philomena memories.

This is a powerful movie in which the Catholic Church strong presence in 1950s on unwed mothers that were coerced in signing adoption papers, years of forced labor while the church pocket the adoption fee, $1,000 per child.

*The film Philomena is based on book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith.



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