Philomena Gets It Wrong

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Philomena tells the story of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), a British woman who goes in search of her son who was adopted almost 50 years earlier and taken to America. Based on Stephen Frears’ book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, the film shows Martin Sixsmith (actor/director Steve Coogan), a disgruntled ex-BBC journalist, teaming up with Philomena to help her confront her past and write a book about  the supposed injustices committed against her and her son.

Early in the film, Philomena, a young Irish teen, gets pregnant out of wedlock and is sent by her family to wait out her confinement and birth at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Ireland, a home for unwed mothers and their children run by the Catholic Church. At the Abbey, Philomena is denigrated by the nuns for her immoral choices and then spends the next several years working hard labor, only getting to see her son about once a day. Although she signs a document relinquishing her child, she is still shocked when she discovers that her son is being adopted by an American couple, presumably after they pay the nuns a steep price for the child.

Fifty years later, Philomena remembers the circumstances with regret and goes on a mission to track down her long-lost son, making a pilgrimage to America with Sixsmith at her side. While there, she discovers that her son, a gay man, had been a successful senior level aide to President Reagan and had died just a few years earlier, presumably of AIDS. After returning to Britain, she discovers that her son had made a similar journey the year before he died to the Abbey in Roscrea, looking for Philomena. Philomena and Sixsmith pressure the Abbey to explain why the records of her son’s adoption had never been made available to her and why the Abbey hadn’t contacted her when her son showed up. The nuns implied that the records had been destroyed in a fire. Later, it’s implied that it was a fire they started.

In the end, Philomena makes peace with her tragic past, forgiving one particular nun who was supposedly the main barrier between Philomena and her son, and visiting her son’s grave (he chose to be buried at Roscrea). It is a bittersweet ending, one that raises serious concerns about the Irish Catholic Church and its potential involvement in child trafficking.

That is, if it were true.

Continue reading over at Marriage Generation blog . . .

The Soloist

Photo courtesy of DreamWorks

Photo courtesy of DreamWorks

(First published at The Point)

To fix or befriend? That is the question that plagues journalist Steve Lopez (played by Robert Downey, Jr., in the poignant true-story film The Soloist, which premiered Friday).

When Lopez, a popular columnist for the L.A. Times, stumbles across Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a schizophrenic homeless musician, a story is born. Soon, Lopez finds himself caught in the tension between crafting a brilliant story about a Juillard student turned homeless man, and looking out for a guy who simply needs someone to care.

But for Lopez, that tension is soon overshadowed by a deeper tension: to help Ayers or simply be his friend?

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Slumdog Thrives on Hope

slumdog-millionaire-1How did Jamal Malik, a slumdog from Mumbai, win 20 million rupees on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

A. He cheated
B. He’s lucky
C. He’s a genius
D. It is destiny

In a swirling explosion of triumphant hope and relentless love against the darkness of poverty, exploitation and violence…that question is answered.

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The Boy in Striped Pajamas

Although cinematically breathtaking, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas leaves no room for butterflies and sunsets. It’s a raw look at a world where evil triumphs, full of shock value despite the glut of Holocaust film treatments. Adapted from the award-winning novel by John Boyne, The Boydelves into the world of Hitler’s Germany through the eyes of 8-year-old Bruno (Asa Butterfield), whose Nazi father (David Thewlis) has just been appointed commandant of a concentration camp. The family moves from their comfortable home in Berlin to an isolated country house right outside of the camp. Sheltered from the knowledge that it is a death camp (likely Auschwitz) and warned never to leave the grounds of his house, Bruno assumes the camp is a farm where everyone wears striped pajamas.

(Full article here at World Magazine)