New York City, N.Y., Dec 10, 2013 / 12:37 pm (CNA).- An atheist movie reviewer has criticized the new film “Philomena” as “another hateful and boring attack on Catholics,” saying that it unfairly shows the Church as exploitative and coercive.
“Anyone who is honest understands that it lambastes the way Irish Catholicism played out in 1950s Ireland, using falsehoods whenever necessary to underscore the point,” said Kyle Smith, a movie critic for the New York Post.
“Some like ‘Philomena’ for that reason. Some think there should be a little more art than diatribe to a film,” he continued.
The Weinstein Company movie dramatizes the story of Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who gave up her son for adoption at a convent in 1950s Ireland after she gave birth out of wedlock at age 18. The movie is told from the perspective of Lee 50 years later as she travels with journalist Martin Sixsmith to learn what happened to her son.
Smith, a self-described atheist, initially characterized the movie in a Nov. 21 review as “a witless bore,” “90 minutes of organized hate,” and “a diabolical-Catholics film, straight-up.”
In response, the Weinstein Company ran a full-page ad in the Dec. 5 New York Times citing the review and publishing excerpts of a letter from Lee to Smith. The elderly Lee said she has “a very strong hold on my faith” and that the movie was meant to be “a testament to good things, not an attack.”
Smith responded on Dec. 7 that Lee ignored how that the movie depicted her in a negative way, as a “dimwit and butt of most of its jokes” in comparison to the “sophisticate” atheist journalist.
The film critic said the movie was “lazy” and “contrived” with “smack-you-in-the-nose” dialogue like the journalist character’s “crowd-pleasing, film-defining cry ‘f—ing Catholics’.”
While the movie portrays the Church as cruel and coercive, Smith noted that it was in some ways a refuge for single mothers who could not support children on their own in the face of social ostracism.
“We all know how cruel it was for the mid-century Catholic Church to provide shelter for scorned women written off as dead by their families, help them give birth to their children and place the adoptees in loving homes,” Smith said with sarcasm. “Today we’d be much more compassionate: we’d simply abort all those kids. Problem solved.”
He added that the film is encouraging anti-Catholic sentiment among some reviewers, (Read More)