While watching Philomena I found it hard not to get angry. The story of a woman who had her child taken away and sold on (to a well meaning AMERICAN family) by the nuns she was sent to live with by her family is a real heartbreaker. As a parent I struggled deeply to keep watching as a young Philomena watched through a window to see a car take her boy away not knowing where to her nails digging deeper into the window frame.
I was angered further by the indifference of the nuns in attempting to help Philomena find her son. I wanted to cry out ‘where is your compassion, have you no soul!!’ I was becoming angrier as the film progressed. This anger was shared on screen by the journalist Martin Sixsmith (played by Steve Coogan) as a ‘recovering Catholic’ his anger at the ‘system’ was tangible and not dissimilar to my own.
The films climax is where I was left stunned by Philomena herself (Judy Dench – what a performance by the way) as she address Martin and puts him in his place by challenging him with “all that anger, you must be so tired”. It hit like a punch to the gut.
Yes the story of Philomena, and the many like her,is terrible. The actions of the nuns were wrong and cruel (no pain relief for a breach birth as penance is just on example) but her reaction was even more incredible.
Philomena showed a deeper understanding of her faith than the majority of the nuns showed her. She showed grace.
Grace is where forgiveness starts.
Grace is where the restart occurs.
Grace is the requirement for starting over.
Religion gets it wrong. Grace sets it right again.