Astrology: Film: ‘Philomena’ (2013)

The Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company

The heartfelt story of a mother’s love over a period of decades, Stephen Frears’ Philomena is a haunting riff on the maternal and emotional Lunar archetype. The total Moon-package here is real-life Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) who, as a teen in 1950s’ Northern Ireland, delivers an out-of-wedlock child she names Anthony. The birthing place is Roscrea, a convent where such girls – “You and your indecency are the cause of this shame,” the nuns cruelly proclaim – are dumped by their parents.

The young mothers become long term residents of the convent where hardcore laundry labor is the way they pay back birthing costs and upkeep. And, in addition to enduring the hardship of their chores, the girls live in the fear that their infants and toddlers – whom the moms are allowed to see just an hour daily – will be given away, for the price of a thousand British pounds, to American parents who’ve come to Ireland to adopt.

As it turns out, one such couple from the U.S. find their way to Roscrea, looking to secure a daughter. However, the female toddler the prospective parents have their eye on is the apple of Anthony’s eye. He’s joined at the hip to his playmate. And so, rather than separate the two little ones, the couple wind up taking Anthony, too.

Fast forward five decades and Philomena, who’s perennially haunted by her son’s fate and how she might have kept him in her care, is ready to track him down. It’s a decision akin to a Full-Moon – nay, Lunar-Eclipse – moment of culmination. And it turns out Philomena’s companion in what will undoubtedly become the biggest adventure of her life is a recently unemployed government spin doctor Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote the script).

Sixsmith meets with Philomena and gets a heads up from his editor who sees promise in the human-interest angle of the elderly lady’s quest. The less-than-worldly – some might even say trustingly innocent – Philomena and the more hardened and cynical Sixsmith make an unlikely yet appealing pair. Their now joint pursuit to uncover the truth becomes a balancing act between assertion and righteous anger – a redemptive version of the archetypally violent and abusive Mars energies perpetrated by the nuns so many years earlier.

The fate of Philomena’s son is revealed soon enough, after which the movie becomes a reflection on resolving one’s “what might have beens” into acceptance and a reality that one can embrace and even forgive.

In addition to ruling motherhood, the Moon oversees memories and the past, including history and artifacts. It’s as though Philomena’s bravery makes a vital connection between nurturing a child, if only in one’s heart, and acknowledging the cruelty of the past and its outmoded institutions which made such affection physically impossible to bestow.

Astrology Film Rating: ☽ (Moon)



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