On Philomena , Kyle Smith Misses the Point Entirely

Dear Kyle,

Much as we'd like to let our film, Philomena, speak for itself, your heavy handed attack upon the lady whose story we told compels us to reply. You say we have made her out to be a "blithering moron" and a "dimwit" in a consciously reductive article in which you hold yourself up as the leading light (indeed the self-proclaimed only member) of the association of conservative film critics. You claim to lead the fight against the forces of subversion who would attack those two defenseless institutions, the Catholic Church and the Republican Party. Well, one line leaped out from your last article:

"I see things all the others miss."

We would humbly suggest the following, small re-write:

"I miss things all the others see."

Truly Kyle you have missed the point of this film. It is not an attack upon either of those institutions, though there are moments in it that do not reflect gloriously on either of them. We went out of our way not to judge the activities of the 1950s Catholic Church with modern sensibilities. We make it clear that Philomena was fully aware that those nuns at Roscrea and, indeed, her son's adoptive U.S. parents, gave Anthony a start in life that she could not have provided herself. What we do say, though, is that it was wrong of the Catholic Church to keep mother and son apart for nearly fifty years in order to cover up something they felt reflected badly on them.

They displayed just the same sort of instinctive lashing out, bullying and simplistic denial that you have reverted to in your articles about the film.

You accuse us of having some sort of anti-Republican agenda, yet could not the film easily be interpreted as the conceited, liberal-minded journalist Martin being humbled by the religiously conservative, blue-collar Philomena?

Philomena is a Catholic whose simple faith remains unshakeable throughout the entire film. If anything it is strengthened by what happens to her. It is a story about forgiveness, one of the most basic, unshakeable tenets of her religion. It is a story about love, not hate.

Yours sincerely,

Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan