If you follow our blog on a regular basis, you know that we sometimes get post ideas from movies we’ve seen. This week is no different. My writings this time are based on the movie “Philomena,” which our family recently enjoyed seeing. It was a powerful film filled with unexpected sentiment, treachery, guilt, and forgiveness. I was tossed about emotionally as I watched this true saga unfold. At the end, I was left feeling very sad for Philomena, along with some anger at the convent which had caused the loss of her son. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
When I first heard the premise behind Philomena’s story, I wasn’t too interested in watching it. It was the story of a woman searching for her son who had been put up for adoption as an infant. At first glance, it didn’t seem that appealing to me. Even though I was moved to compassion for people in these situations, I felt like this was a tale I had heard many times over. But, after I saw the trailer for the movie, I realized my first impression was wrong. There was much more emotion and intrigue in this particular version than I ever imagined.
The story begins in Ireland in the early 1950’s when Philomena, as a teenager, becomes pregnant from an illicit sexual encounter. Embarrassed by the pregnancy, Philomena’s father put her in the nearby Rosacrea convent in the hands of a strict, harsh group of nuns who felt she should be punished for her transgression. Philomena had a painful delivery at the convent, after which she spent four years in hard labor to work off her debt to the nuns for taking her in.
Philomena’s infant son, whom she named Anthony, was put in the nursery at the convent, where he was adopted at one year of age by a rich couple from the United States. While waiting to be adopted, Philomena was allowed to see her son for only one hour a day, but she still had time to bond with him. She loved her son very much. It broke her heart when her Anthony was adopted and taken from the convent to America. Philomena had no say in the matter. The nuns had forced her to give up her parental rights when she entered the convent to give birth.
Philomena kept Anthony’s existence a secret for fifty years. During that time, she married and had a daughter. Even though her family knew nothing about her son, Philomena thought of him every day, always wondering what had become of him. As memories of Anthony crowded her private thoughts, she became determined to see him again. Philomena then made repeated trips to the convent to try to have Anthony’s adoption records revealed to her. The nuns refused to give her any information regarding Anthony’s whereabouts.
Desperate to find her son, Philomena confessed the secret about Anthony to her daughter, Jane, who willingly joined in the search for him. Jane unexpectedly met a well known news correspondent by the name of Martin Sixsmith. Martin befriended Philomena and Jane and became instrumental in helping them find Anthony.
Martin, with his substantial connections to government agencies, was able to track Anthony’s immigration to the United States and uncover his whereabouts. A sad twist to the plot occurred when Martin learned that Anthony had died a few years prior due to HIV. Trying to move past her grief at the thought of never seeing her son again, Philomena became obsessed with finding out if Anthony ever thought of her after being adopted. Martin, by now, fully absorbed in Philomena’s sad dilemma, agreed to help once again.
Based on what Philomena and Martin had learned in their extensive search to find Anthony, it seemed to the audience that Anthony had never given thought to his birth mother, nor had he shown any interest in finding out anything about her. As the movie came to a close, I found myself feeling somewhat forlorn, with disappointment rising up at the sudden, unfulfiling end to the tale.
But, have no fear, this is just when the saga gets interesting with additional intrigue and mystery one would never have imagined. With that being said, be sure to check back here next week to hear the astonishing end to this heart-wrenching account. It’s quite a surprise ending! And, as usual, I’ll be including my commentary about the events.
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