Interlocking interviews of 4 women interred in various Magdalene asylums and/or orphanages because of out-of-wedlock pregancies, being sexually assaulted, or just being "too pretty" (believe it or not).
A thoroughly mind-provoking film about 3 young women who, under tragic circumstances, see themselves cast away to a Magdalene Asylum for young women in 1964. One of many like institutions, the asylums are run like prisons and young girls are forced to do workhouse laundry and hard labor. The asylum, one of many that existed in theocratic Catholic Ireland, is for supposedly 'fallen' women. Here, young girls are imprisoned indefinitely and endure agonizing punishments and a long, harsh working system which leaves them physically drained and mentally damaged. As the girls bond together, it soon becomes clear that the only way out of the Magdalene convent is to escape, but with twisted Sister Bridget running the wing, any chances seem limited... Written by
I would give this film 20 out of 10! Excellent acting, nimble direction and very well crafted representations of real-historical events and persons. Eileen Walsh should get a special award for an incredible performance as Crispina - Eileen, you are fantastic! I look forward to more from you! What shook me was the realization that this movie captured the interplay of Dickensian exploitation interwoven with the fascistic barbarity of the church. The laundry was a slave-plantation par excellence as it ground its physically, sexually and emotionally exploited slaves within an atmosphere of sheer terror and self-hatred - we deserve what we get because we are guilty - shame on us - this is what the masters of every plantation on this planet sought to instill in slaves.
What I would have liked to see developed further was how this laundry-plantation fit within the wider Irish society - whose clothes were being washed, and what was their relationship to the people who were incarcerated here? Religion's role in the sheer brutalization of its adherents has been evidenced throughout history - no mass religion has brought anything other than terror, subjugation and self-hatred to women - this film proves it beyond doubt! As men, we are beneficiaries of such brutalities to women - and we are like Margaret's brother - who sheepishly mutters some nonsense about waiting to grow up while his sister lived in hell. What pained me most in this film was the terrible scene of uniformed men dragging Crispina out of the dormitory - to her destruction - and here the most painful part was noting that none of the women could shake off their terror to help their sister who cried for help. The scene captured in a brutal moment, the truth that tyranny can only thrive with our collective fear. Religion like other totalitarian ideologies rules by internalized terror.
Enough, go on and watch this movie, its worth every tear you shed, because in the end, you will find that being disturbed makes you recognize the suffering of every Crispina, Margaret, Rose, Bernadette among us.
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