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The Magdalene Sisters
The Magdalene Sisters
Actors: Eileen Walsh, Dorothy Duffy, Nora-Jane Noone, Anne-Marie Duff, Geraldine McEwan
Director: Peter Mullan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2004     1hr 59min

A stirring, must-see motion picture critics called one of the best films of the year, THE MAGDALENE SISTERS is the triumphant story of three extraordinary women whose courage to defy a century of injustice would inspire a ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Eileen Walsh, Dorothy Duffy, Nora-Jane Noone, Anne-Marie Duff, Geraldine McEwan
Director: Peter Mullan
Creators: Peter Mullan, Alan J. Wands, Andrea Occhipinti, Ed Guiney, Frances Higson, Paddy Higson, Paul Trijbits
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Religion
Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Anamorphic
DVD Release Date: 03/23/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 59min
Screens: Color,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: Spanish, French
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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 8/13/2019...
Watched most of this during the weekend and finished the last part tonight. Let me start out, this will make a horror fan cringe since this is based on true events and the things you will see in this, you cannot rewind and forget them. It was very sad to watch parts of it but I am glad I did but I doubt I could ever revisit this movie again. Keep watching at the end since it will fill you in with actual details about some of the girls.
Mamie H. (towncar1997) from TAHLEQUAH, OK
Reviewed on 6/1/2010...
This Movie has some really Sad scenes. The treatment the Girls endured at the hands of the Nuns should have been illegal. It is well worth your time to watch it.
4 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Another True and Shocking Story Of The Holy Catholic Church!
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 06/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For much of the 20th century in Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church operated a string of laundries, the Magdalene Asylums, where very young women accused of "moral crimes" were sent
to work and repent of their evil ways in a cathartic vision of cleansing the soul while cleaning the laundry. These so-called "moral crimes" were broadly defined as becoming pregnant, getting
raped or even flirting with boys or being overly attractive and thus committing the sin of vanity. In the asylum's history, over 30,000 women were incarcerated, endured the Catholic Churches discipline systems and many died there. Often sexually abused and assaulted by priests, sexually humiliated, assaulted, shamed and beaten within an inch of their lives by their masochistic caretakers, the nuns - those "sweet sisters of mercy".As a shocker, The last of these horrendous Catholic laundries closed in 1996.
Scottish actor-writer-director Peter Mullan sets the story in 1964, the high-water mark for tension between our modern society and old-line Catholicism. The story centers on three very young women who were surreptitiously marched off to repent and be slaves for life to the Holy Catholic Church and their "pious" service of community.
Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff) is raped by her cousin at a family wedding and both of her parents place her in the "care" of their village priest and ship her off to the Magelene Laundries to avoid that horrible stigma of shameful family embarrassment; Rose (Dorothy Duffy) is an unwed mother forced by her mother, father and Holy Father to give her baby boy up for adoption, placing him in the Catholic orphanage system, and Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone) is a Catholic orphanage young and beautiful teenaged girl deemed loose just because she is so pretty, fun and talks to boys.
All three are sent to a Magdalene laundry outside Dublin, where conditions would make the dusty prison farm in "Cool Hand Luke" look like a virtual health spa. These young women are worked 12 to 14 hours a day, 364 days a year (except Christmas, God bless) without any pay, viciously beaten for even speaking out of turn and, in one most disturbing scene, trotted around naked and ridiculed by the nuns. Overseeing the place is Highhanded Sister Bridget, a witch in a wimpole, well played by the British veteran Geraldine MacEwan.
The other inmates of the Holy Catholic Church are a varied lot. The tragic figure of the mentally disabled, sexually assaulted, and committed Crispina played by Eileen Walsh in an earth shattering performance really stands out as the best performance in the cast, in my humble opinion.The nuns are given some depth by director, Mullan- Sister Bridget is shown as a whirling devilish mean mother superior one moment, but capable of gushing tears at a Christmas Day screening of "The Bells of St. Mary's." What is truly unbelievable and disquieting in "The Magdalene Sisters" is how the Irish families of the prisoners aided and abetted such cruel treatment of their own flesh and blood. When one girl, Una, successfully escapes the laundry, she is beaten within an inch of her life and is dragged back by her father (oddly played by the director, Mullan), who verbally and physically abuses Una every step of the way. Una is handed over to Sister Bernadette and the sister shaves all of Una's beautiful hair off of her beaten and bloodied head which was a regular action taken by the nuns.

In Mullan's portrait of institutionalized shame and suffering, and a society's uniquely cruel form of sexual repression, "The Magdalene Sisters" is a hard pill to take, but certainly worth it for its outpouring of overcoming, raw rage and defiance on the screen.And if the fact-based movie weren't enough to shock, also included is the British documentary "Sex In A Cold Climate" which interviews several Irish women who were imprisioned during the time of the Catholic Church's REIGN OF TERROR! The documentary exposes even more sick, sad and twisted goings on that the movie didn't even touch upon...Highly Recommended and Happy Pondering!"
Suffice It To Say, The Church and State Had Too Much Power.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 04/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

""The Magdalene Sisters" is a fact-based account of three young Irish women who were imprisoned in a Magdalene Laundry in Dublin in 1964. The original purpose of the ten Magdalene Laundries that were established in Ireland in the 19th century was to reform prostitutes. Women were imprisoned by the State and Church and expected to do penance for their sins through hard work and prayer. By 1930, instead of being populated by former prostitutes, Ireland's Magdalene Laundries were occupied primarily by unwed mothers whose families had rejected them. An estimated 30,000 Irish women were detained in the Laundries during the 20th century, until the last one closed in 1996, and were used as a slave labor force, working from dawn until dusk to turn a profit for the Order that administered the Laundries."The Magdalene Sisters" tells the stories of Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff), who is sent away from her home after being raped at a family wedding, Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone), whose caretakers at the orphanage where she grew up banish her to the Laundry to prevent her good looks from causing any trouble, and Rose (Dorothy Duffy), who is scorned by her family after bearing a child out of wedlock. These three teenagers arrive at the Magdalene asylum at the same time and together bear its abuses and indignities over the course of years. The three lead actresses give fine performances. Geraldine McEwan and Eileen Walsh give stand-out performances as Sister Bridget, chief administrator of the asylum, and Crispina, a mentally challenged inmate, respectively. The film does portray the Irish Catholic Church in a bad light -at least the small part of it that we see. But the Church fares no worse than the government that supported the imprisonment of women who had committed no crime or, even more appalling, the self-righteous, hideously self-absorbed parents who delivered their children into imprisonment and slavery because they were afraid of what the neighbors would think. "The Magdalene Sisters" presents interesting intertwined stories about a very unfortunate slice of Irish history.The DVD: This disc's single bonus feature is the inaptly titled 50-minute documentary "Sex in a Cold Climate". This is an original British documentary film which inspired writer/director Peter Mullan to write "The Magdalene Sisters". The documentary features the stories of three women who were confined in Magdalene Laundries in their youth, and one woman who grew up in an orphanage that adjoined one of the Laundries. It's unclear to me whether these women were the basis for the characters in the "The Magdalene Sisters" or not. Their stories are similar enough to those in the movie to make me think so, yet they differ in timing and details. For the feature film, subtitles are available in French and Spanish, and captions are available in English. Dubbing is available in French. Four unavoidable "public service" spots precede the film, narrated by movie stars and aimed at women with anorexia, alcoholism, self-esteem, and spousal abuse problems. What will we have to sit through next?"
Bergman goes to Ireland: remarkably executed
J. Christal | Teaneck, New Jersey United States | 01/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Magdalene Sisters is one of the better movies of the year. It holds within it such emotional girth, such a sympathy with these girls and what they go through in such a society that holds the Catholic belief system as the absolute truth, that by the time you leave the theater, like it or dis-like it, you'll feel drained. Along with a heart-wrenching relentlessness by writer/director Peter Mullan in revealing the details of the nun's cruelty and coldness, there are a number of very good performances here. Geraldine McEwan's Sister Bridget, head Sister of the Magdalene reformatory, is on par with Nurse Ratched for being one of the most frightening of dominating female figures; Eileen Walsh's Crispina/Harriet is possibly the most touching of the lot of imprisoned women and could garner an Oscar nomination; Nora-Jane Noone's Bernadette is a true balancing act between rebellious spirit and trapped creature; and the other players, including Anne-Marrie Duff and Dorothy Duffy add splendid supporting work. As fellow film connoisseurs know, Ingmar Bergman was renown for most of his films dealing with faith, the loss of it, and/or the absence of God and the pain that seeps through in living in such a world that doesn't question it. While these questions weren't as forward and evident in this film as they were in Bergman's masterpieces, often Mullan subtly brings these questions to light as the film progresses: if God is pounded over and over and over into these girl's heads, that they are here because they need to repent for their "mortal sins" (such as being raped, flirting, having children out of wedlock), and they are subjected to physical, sexual, and mental abuse by those who should be compassionate, life-long devotees to the faith, where is God? This question actually comes to a big head in a scene that at first shows itself to be rather amusing when a priest gets a poison Ivy rash, and then Crispina, who got it from him in the worst way, shouts out over and over YOU'RE NOT A MAN OF GOD, and thus is silenced away to a mental asylum. Indeed, this is the part of the film where the question gets the most light, and it's the most harrowing scene in the movie among others and is one of the most powerful in movies this year. The only liability is the climatic ending to which is something against a Bergman=esque logic, and while I won't reveal it here, it tends to go to an (appropriate) timing that's akin to Cuckoo's Nest. Personally, I felt the film should have ended with the Bergman logic instead of the Kesey spirit, but that's neither here nor there, since the bulk of the film in and of itself is contains some passionate drama, and to those who see it will not only get an eye-opening view to the old-time (if old-time is up until seven years ago) Catholic ways, but also to the great dangers of control over human life."