Last month, Kyle Smith, the long-running and popular New York Post film critic, published his review of the Weinstein Company’s new film, “Philomena,” regarding a young woman essentially forced to give up her out-of-wedlock son in 1950’s Ireland who then sets out to find him, decades later.
With “Philomena,” British producer-writer-star Steve Coogan and director Stephen Frears hit double blackjack, finding a true-life tale that would enable them to simultaneously attack Catholics and Republicans…. The film doesn’t mention that in 1952 Ireland, both mother and child’s life would have been utterly ruined by an out-of-wedlock birth and that the nuns are actually giving both a chance at a fresh start that both indeed, in real life, enjoyed. No, this is a diabolical-Catholics film, straight up.
This apparently did not go over well… at all. A week later, the real-life Philomena Lee penned a lengthy response-letter to Smith, denying that the film is anti-Catholic. (The letter is, however, ineffective in rebutting the points Smith made in his review.)
As if this turn of events were not already extremely unconventional, the Weinstein Company then took it a step further, escalating the matter into warp-speed by placing a full-page ad in today’s The New York Times, singling out Smith in what must be a new-low for Hollywood bullying tactics.
The ad reads: “All [film critics] Praise ‘Philomena’ With A 92% ‘Certified Fresh’ Score On Rotten Tomatoes But The New York Post‘s Kyle Smith Has A Different Opinion.” It features excerpts from Smith’s review (whom the ad refers to using the strangely overly familiar “Kyle”), as well as Lee’s response-letter to Smith.
As Smith wryly noted in a Tweet today, he “inspired a full-page attack ad.”
While most will chalk this up to The Weinstein Company simply seeking publicity out of the ‘feud’ (assuming that it was Lee’s idea to write the response-letter), some of us may question if there is not more to this. The true message here seems to be: If you are a film critic who slams an anti-Catholic or anti-Christian film, you may just find yourself singled out for public scrutiny and public shaming in full page Times ads. An intimidation tactic or a warning to other critics? Quite possibly.
Kudos to Smith for standing up against Hollywood’s stale but persistent shaming of Catholics and of Christians overall.