December 4, 2013


Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. So is Lust. Which is the more severe of the two? Philomena tries to expose the former as the most damaging in the annals in history. And its measure is successful.


We are introduced to an elderly Irish lady having flashbacks of a past life. We know heading into the film what will be expected as she meets the handsome strange boy in her adolescence. We know where she will end up after suffering the consequences. She became an effective prisoner of the Catholic Church for her intransigence, and the nunnery in which he had to labor away at for four years as a return in compensation for providing pitiful midwife service and the sustenance of her baby. But what we discover as the narrative unfolds is a web of catastrophic devastation brought forth not by religion per se, but, as every atheist blindly and swiftly ignores the human individuals that ensconce it for their own aims.


It is difficult not to give the plot away while at the same time critiquing the major theme. But I’ll try. It is the mortal wound of all institutions where man organizes himself, or where he finds order. In general, this is an existential necessity for his being. Having been thrown into this world, as one Martin Heidegger would summarize, the scintillation of existence is too unfathomable for him. He must gather his senses and create a proper frame of reference to direct his life. Easier said than done. The entire enterprise of history and the human condition is in the optimization or indeed tenacious precision of such an ordeal. And it is something that is inescapable, lest one fall into the doldrums of nihilism, where ironically disorder and irrationality is embraced as the new order, which in turn is nothing but a self-absorbed inversion of what order there actually is. All to say, in the highest regard, the nature of man is to find order in order to find purpose, granting his life meaning over a black abyss. Ironically of course, the black abyss is an interpretation of this incident, this tangent, he has with nature. He alternatively can propose, and indeed this is his ultimatum, he is compelled to propose a reason for being.


Thus the birth of religion. Thus its historical influence on the conditioning of man, toward something over nothing. And thus, to the lazy-minded inculcated within the institutions, it is far easier to find their mode of ethics which they were basted in to be of a superior quality to those who violate them. Of course it is completely Christian not to judge, yet that does not stop the nuns from creating a devastating storyline that is cinematically produced with a strong British flavor, in the most sincerely flattering way, whereby the struggle with modernity and the old orthodoxy are put head to head. However, redemption exists, and little old Philomena is wise enough to understand that God and the Church are mutually exclusive.


Grade: A



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