Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Philomena' Appeals with Truth Behind Tale

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Philomena' Appeals with Truth Behind Tale

Article excerpt

Appeal of 'Philomena' lies in the truth behind astonishing tale


TORONTO - Director Stephen Frears says telling the story of a real-life character -- as he's done in his new film "Philomena" -- comes with a certain responsibility.

"The truth is you're really saying to people, please will you trust me with this bit of your life," Frears said in an interview at September's Toronto International Film Festival.

"You walk quite a difficult line. I find it very, very interesting ... All I can tell you is the audience is actually much more interested now in real life."

Frears says he wanted real-life events to speak for themselves as he told the story of an elderly Irish Catholic woman who went searching for the son that had been taken from her after being born out of wedlock.

"The film is what it is," said Frears. "If we've told the story as well as I hope we have, these events just simply happened."

Starring Judi Dench, "Philomena" strikes a fine balance, not only between comedy and tragedy, but also between criticism of the Catholic church and quiet respect for the resiliency of the religion's faithful.

"It's not very difficult to criticize the Catholic church, they make it very easy for you," said Frears. "But of course (the film) is full of admiration for Philomena's faith, which I thought was rather more important than the institutions. So it's more complicated."

While Frears has said he'd like the Pope -- who seems to him to be "a rather good bloke" -- to watch the film, the movie isn't intended to be a call to arms.

"I haven't acquired faith," he said dryly. "But you make a film about someone who is capable of doing that and of course you learn from it."

The movie is based on a book by former BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith, who accompanied a woman named Philomena Lee on her trans-Atlantic search for the child she barely got to know before nuns took him away. …

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