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The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

R  |   |  Drama  |  29 August 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 20,973 users   Metascore: 83/100
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Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.



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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 18 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rose / Patricia
Britta Smith ...
Sister Jude
Eithne McGuinness ...
Sister Clementine
Phyllis MacMahon ...
Sister Augusta (as Phyllis McMahon)
Rebecca Walsh ...
Brendan (as Chris Simpson)
Sean Colgan ...
Daniel Costello ...
Father Fitzroy


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In a place that defied belief their only hope was each other. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence/cruelty, nudity, sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die unbarmherzigen Schwestern  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£88,315 (UK) (1 November 2002)


$4,890,878 (USA) (21 November 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Peter Mullan has remarked that the film was initially made because victims of Magdalene Asylums had no closure. They had not received any recognition, compensation, or apology, and many remained lifelong devout Catholics. See more »


When Margaret's brother shows up to take his sister home, he not only knows his way around the facility, but knows exactly which room everyone is in, despite having never set foot in the place in some six years. See more »


[first lines]
Margaret: Well, what is it you're wanting to show me? Come on, Kevin, what's the secret?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to ... Andy and Marco at Edit-Hire Post Production Services ... all at the Glasgow Film Theatre ... Lee at Lynx ... all the gardeners ... the people of Dumfries ... and all at VFG. See more »


Features The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) See more »


The Well Below the Valley
Traditional Irish folksong
Sung by the priest at the wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

don't hate Catholics
23 October 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Though this film is horrific, and portrays Catholics to be cruel and sadistic, I would just like to say , please don't think all Catholics are like that. I am Catholic, and proud to be one, yet I still believe everything that happened in this film was wrong.

This film is of tremendous quality and I recommend it to everyone, even those who may be disgusted by what they see. It is the kind of film that goes straight to the heart, and yes it made me ashamed to be a Catholic for a period of time, I hope that anyone who sees this film will not despise the Catholic Church. Each character, each scene was done so realistically, it will make all who see it fill with empathy for those girls, I even think that the nuns who ran these asylums would be shocked at what they actually did, if they were living in these times. It reminds me, in a way of the film Schindlers List, the way the nuns inspected the girls bodies and laughed about them, both the Holocaust and these asylums were apparently doing what was right yet causing great pain and suffering at the same time. Watch this film, it is definitely worth it.

44 of 79 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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