Bad title. Instead, “Philomena,” played by Dame Judi Dench, should have been called something like, “They’re Taking Anthony.”
This movie is: a mystery and an attempt to solve a heinous crime; a story about unconditional love between mother and son; a story about AIDS being ignored inside the Reagan administration while its employees were dying from it; a story about the importance of freelance journalism; a story about a mother’s acceptance of her son’s homosexuality; a story about sexual guilt and shame; a story about the crimes of the Catholic church who sold children of unwed mothers for financial gain; a story about forgiveness; a story with values.
Stephen Frears, its director is given little credit though he has done a masterful job. The production values are exquisite. After walking from a screening of “Nebraska,” which was a slow journey about making amends toward one’s father and a great film because of the magnificent performances of Bruce Dern and the townsfolk of Lincoln who never had a publicist, but whose acting is every bit as good as Dern’s, and pondering the merits of “The Wolf of Wall Street” while comparing all three, “Philomena” is the easy winner.
As to “Wolf of Wall Street,” this film is devoid of values. It is cheap sexual exploitation. The use of drugs, yes, is part of the story, and, yes, profits from this movie are going to charity. But slick criminal Jordan Belfort is becoming a household name due to this despicable film.
Yes, Jordan Belfort, portrayed brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio, is 17 years sober which is commendable, but this film is a glorification of Belfort’s drug use turned into comedy with no direct amends made by Belfort to those he injured. Yes, Belfort says he is giving all profits to these folks, but has he tried to make amends on a personal level to one? Just one? On Piers Morgan’s interview with him on CNN he says, “No.”
But my main objection to “Wolf of Wall Street” is its director. Scorsese may feel drug use is funny to glorify, but it is not. And the horrible exploitation of women with its gorgeous star, Margot Robbie, sitting spread eagle on the carpet while a camera films her nakedness is the cheapest shot of manipulative Scorsese’s career.
“Oh, you’ll be in a Marty Scorsese film,” our beautiful heroine is told. Ba Humbug. Scorsese talked this naïve beauty from down under to expose her down under. And what about all the other naked women, treated like extras, who strut around the office showing their unshaven selves. What a casting session Marty must have enjoyed choosing these women!
“Oh, you’ll be in a Marty Scorsese film,” these naïve actresses were again told. Oh, please, Marty grow some cajones! Have some respect for women! This nudity was gratuitous and did not advance the plot. It was unnecessary. Could it be because Marty has been married five times that he is projecting his repressed anger toward women onto the screen needlessly? Oh, wait, he did direct Jonah Hill to masturbate and show his erection on camera so he leveled his playing field regarding sexploitation.
“Wolf of Wall Street” is a pretentious film about exploitation. Period.
“Philomena” is based on a true story ultimately about redemption written by Martin Sixsmith titled “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee.” Scorsese could learn a thing or three from Stephen Frears, Stephen Coogan who wrote the screenplay, starred in it and produced it, Martin Sixsmith and, Philomena, herself.
Scorsese, at 5’3″, is a little man.