Shelley Marsden on Steve Coogan :: Say ‘sorry’ and let healing begin
FOR Steve Coogan, his powerful new film Philomena, which is already being tipped for an Oscar, is less an angry attack on Catholicism and more about the healing power of saying ‘sorry’.
Directed by Stephen Frears, Philomena is based on the true story of world-weary political journalist Martin Sixsmith, who decided to tell the story of an Irish woman’s search for her son, taken away from her decades ago after she fell pregnant and was forced to live in a convent, one of the infamous ‘Magdalene Laundries’.
Coogan told the Irish World he believes the Oscar-tipped film, which he co-wrote and stars in alongside Judi Dench is about, amongst other things, being able to acknowledge one’s mistakes
“It’s that defensive position the Church has taken which is deny, deny, deny until the evidence is undeniable and then begrudgingly accept its guilt”, says Coogan. “For an institution so in favour of contrition, when it came to putting its own house in order it had to be brought kicking and screaming to the confessional box. You have to do what the character says in the film – ‘Say sorry’.”
He added: “You empower yourself by saying you’ve made mistakes. You learn from them and move on, and really mean it. We shouldn’t include in this, of course, those people like Philomena who lead dignified, philanthropic lives in the name of their religion.”
At the Abbey, which is the basis of the film, the Manchester-Irish actor, famous for his comedy alter-ego Alan Partridge, was struck by how the graves he saw were kept. That those of the nuns were beautifully tended to and those of the babies and mothers were overgrown with brambles was, he said, the perfect metaphor for the Church’s behaviour and its “bunker mentality” in defending itself against criticism.
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