They were never going to pre-order the DVD with bonus commentary, were they?
The story of Philomena doesn’t exactly paint nuns in the best light, which isn’t to say the story isn’t valid or true. But it’s difficult to escape the fact that nuns don’t exactly come off as the good guys. And The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary aren’t particularly happy.
The heartwarming story didn't warm the hearts of the nuns
Philomena Lee (Dame Judi Dench), an Irish woman whose son was forcibly put up for adoption, is joined by journalist and former PR & Media spin doctor Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) as they try and track down her lost child.
According to the story, nuns said she should be punished for falling pregnant as a teenager; they obstructed her attempts to track her son down by burning records and were paid for the baby to be put up for adoption. The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary deny burning records and receiving money for the adoption.
The film, which tells the emotive story via the brilliant work of Dench and Coogan, has been praised from all corners of the press, with fantastic reviews and a general consensus that the story was handled with sincerity and accuracy. Apart from the nuns.
Sister Julie Rose, the order’s assistant congregational leader, said the film “does not tell the whole truth, and in many ways is very misleading.” Sister Julie continued, "The film company confirmed to us in writing at an early stage of production that a second meeting with Sister Hildegarde would be incorporated into the film and dramatic licence was the reason given to us." - They were talking to the catholic news site, The Tablet.
A spokesman for film-maker Pathe said that the story was “materially true,” despite some scenes being altered for “dramatic purposes.”
He said the nuns were contacted twice over the screenplay last year but they failed to send a formal reply.
“As the nuns have themselves acknowledged, the film is not a documentary,” he said. “If the congregations have seen the film, they will know that it is not a diatribe against the Catholic Church but it does challenge the Church’s instinct to conceal the original wrong and to refuse to apologise.”
Philomena is currently out in the U.K, and hits U.S cinemas on November 27th.
Judi Dench [L] and Steve Coogan [R] in 'Philomena'