Europe Edition

2022 Number 1

Cinema

Philomena:

Stories that should be listened

What a beautiful movie. What a magnificent performance by Judi Dench. What sadness and what emotion. We suggest ourselves in this overwhelming story (based on real events), of an older woman, who, having been a teenage mother, was stripped away from her baby, by the nuns of the convent in which she lived and, 50 years later, begins the search for that son who already has another life and his history. She is accompanied by a serious journalist, who, having run out of many alternatives in her career, with enough frustration and skepticism, must explore in this genre of “telling human stories”.

This story, so beautifully told, leaves us once again perplexed by the immense capacity for cruelty of the human being, against the human being. What is that? How do we explain it to ourselves?

There are no words. In this case, the irreparable cruelty exerted by the nuns of the convent in which Philomena grew up, justified, of course, in the defense of “superior good” of purity and chastity, in the defense of “Truth”. The same purity and the same “Truth” that have legitimized cruelty to blacks, Jews, homosexuals, and so many other groups. Cinema, like other forms of art, has this mysterious and paradoxical possibility of showing horror with beauty. We can also see it in the movie “Twelve years of slavery” (Steven McQueen) and in many others.

But the beauty, naturally, is not in the horror, perhaps it is rather in the possibility of surviving the trauma, in the necessary tribute to those who did not survive, in the immense capacity for reparation of which we are part as observers or as companions witnesses.

The traumatic story must become a tale, and thus confirm its reality and meaning. Yes, this happened! It happened to someone, and it was that way. And it is the other, the one that confirms this reality. It is in the intersubjectivity of the victim and the witness where the experience emerges to be seen and witnessed, to remain and exist in the world, and not only in the victim’s internal and isolated home. This connects us at last with others and returns to us as humanity and as individuals the responsibility for our own separation and evolution.

The story must be told, and it is told to another.

The overwhelming thing about Philomena is the goodness of the protagonist, yes, as is well: kindness. Love and loving attachment, infinite capacity for forgiveness. And from a complementary reading; Philomena’s submission and her inability to question childhood authority or a boundless loyalty to a belief system; in which the evil cannot be infringed by the one who represents the good, or perhaps, it must always be forgiven. It is through the journalist, his companion and witness, that a voice that calls for justice appears, and the viewer can be represented. There is no truth.

Impossible not to refer to humor in this film, and it is that Philomena makes you laugh! Humor is also a resource in survival and in human relationships, laughter does good. The protagonist has very funny flashes, and with more laughter, more tears too, that which has been called crying with emotion, occurs here. The film arouses sadness, sweetness, helplessness, compassion, pain, hope and perhaps what else to everyone. It is in this painting, possibly, where the beauty can be appreciated.

Carla Crempien / Clinical Psychologist from the University of Chile. Ph (D) in Psychotherapy from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Postgraduate degree in symbolic – experiential family and couples therapy, Institute of Psychiatry and Psychology of Santiago de Chile.

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