Philomena is still racing around my mind as a spiritually stimulating movie. In the first part of my review ( read it here...) I looked at the evangelistic work of Philomena on Martin Sixsmith. In this blog I want to look at the end of the movie. If you haven’t seen the movie then I am heading in to a big spoiler so stop reading now… go and watch it… and then come back here after you have enjoyed. If you haven’t seen it and want to continue reading then having been warned a will give a little background.
Philomena was an unmarried teenager, sent to an Irish Magdalen Laundry where Nuns looked after you in return for your working for a few years in their convent. It wasn’t pretty and many of the children were then sent off to be adopted. Fifty years after her son was born, and almost as many since she had seen him last, Philomena sets her heart on finding her son. Martin Sixsmith who has lost his journalist credibility in a political leak takes on the story. An unlikely partnership they set off on a trail that leads them to a shocking conclusion that the Nuns have lied to not only Philomena but her long lost son. By the time they discover this her son is dead and the hope of reconciliation gone.
Sixsmith is outraged at this injustice and the behaviour of those who claim to represent a God that he already has trouble believing in. He bursts through the private doors of the Convent and begins an assault one of the old Nuns who he reckons is culpable. As he does so, Philomena appears on the scene, looks the Nun in the eye and tells her that she wants her to know that she forgives her. Sixsmith is even more exasperated and says to Philomena, “Just like that?” to which she answers, “No, not just like that,” expressing the cost of this brave act. When Sixsmith shares his anger Philomena looks at him with some pity and says, “that must be exhausting!”
It is one of the many many profound scenes in a movie that is lingering with me as days go on. I was immediately thinking of the importance of that idea of forgiveness to the social and political reconciliation in Belfast. Forgiveness needs spoken, and it is not lost on me that it is spoken to the Church in this instance, and there needs to be understanding that when it is falteringly uttered that the words come with a huge cost and deep pain. Yet, it is something that releases the anger and that pain. It is a freeing act. Philomena, not for the first time in this movie, reveals deep truth in the simplest of ways.