Real-life ‘Philomena’ (nicely) takes on film critic Kyle Smith

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in the drama "Philomena." Credit: TWC Publicity
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in the drama “Philomena.”
Credit: TWC Publicity

Film criticism, like filmmaking, does not attract many conservatives, and one of the few — The New York Post’s Kyle Smith — does not hide his views. One can rely on him to speak against any film that could even remotely denigrate his political stripe. The latest subject of his epithet-heavy ire is “Philomena,” the well-received crowd-pleaser starring Judi Dench as one Philomena Lee, a real-life Irish woman whose child was taken from her at a Catholic convent and whose identity was consciously kept from view. He was, to say the least, not moved by this real-life tragedy.

“There’s no other purpose to the movie,” he charges, “than to simultaneously attack Catholics and Republicans.” Perhaps worse, “the film is a witless bore about a ninny and a jerk having one of those dire, heavily staged, only-in-movies odd-couple road trips.” (The Metro also didn’t enjoy the film, though we’d only agree with the second part, minus the characterization of Lee as a “ninny.”)

The real Lee has retaliated, albeit in the most nice old Irish lady way possible. Her letter, published by Deadline Hollywood, starts by calling him “Kyle” — to pile on the guilt straight away — then proceeds to maintain that the film was not done out of hate. “The story it tells has resonated with people not because it’s some mockery of ideas or institutions that they’re in disagreement with,” Lee says. “This is not a rally cry against the church or politics. In fact, despite some of the troubles that befell me as a young girl, I have always maintained a very strong hold on my faith.”

She does admittedly go a touch far with her conclusion, though it’s understandable (and kind of satisfying, to be honest): “Just as I forgave the church for what happened with my son, I forgive you for not taking the time to understand my story. I do hope though that the families heading to the movie theatre to see the film decide for themselves — and disagree with you.”

For the record, “Philomena” — co-starring and co-written by legendary comic performer Steve Coogan, who does a finem, unpleasant version of the cliche of the intellectual jerk who needs to get knocked down a peg or two — goes out of its way to distinguish between Catholics and the institution that preys (or at least once preyed) on certain “unsavory” members. Even after discovering the truth, Lee retains her faith, and [spoiler, though it's based on a real, easily available story] forgives those who made her life miserable. (Meanwhile, Coogan’s atheist comes off like a jerk who deserves receiving an f-bomb from Dame Judi.)

Moreover, Lee should just be happy she didn’t tear his limbs off and beat him with it over this paragraph in his review: “The film doesn’t mention that in 1952 Ireland, both mother and child’s life would have been utterly ruined by an out-of-wedlock birth and that the nuns are actually giving both a chance at a fresh start that both indeed, in real life, enjoyed.” Yes, Lee should have been happy that her son was taken away from her and his whereabouts systematically kept from her.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Class action against Facebook attracts 60,000 users

A law student said his class action suit against Facebook for alleged privacy violations has the support of 60,000 users and passed its first legal review.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Local

Mugger uses chokeholds in Central Park attacks: NYPD

Cops are searching for a Manhattan mugging suspect tied to at least two attacks near Central Park this week.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

Television

TV watch list, Thursday, Aug. 21: 'Simpsons,' 'Simpsons'…

It's time to change the channel to FXX, and then never change it again, as you watch all the "Simpsons" episodes you can handle.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…