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Parents Guide

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MPAA Rated R for violence/cruelty, nudity, sexual content and language

Sex & Nudity

  • At the beginning of the film, a man lures a female cousin away from a family wedding to an upstairs room. He kisses her against her will and then appears to leave after she scolds him for the inappropriate/incestuous advance; however he then returns, hitting her violently in the face with the door. The rape is shown, no nudity.
  • A man offers an institutionalized young woman money in exchange for oral sex. She is clearly upset by the solicitation, and strikes out at him.
  • A man is overcome by severe poison ivy in front of a large crowd during an outdoor public ceremony. He begins to run away while stripping, showing his inflamed back side. This scene also implicates sexual abuse.

Violence & Gore

  • At the beginning of the film, a man lures a female cousin away from a family wedding to an upstairs room. After she rejects his advances, he hits her violently in the face with the door. The rape is shown, no nudity.
  • In different scenes, women are beaten about the legs and back by nuns, usually with canes or a heavy strap. Generally a lot of yelling, threats, degrading name-calling, and verbal/physical abuse are directed at the women in the Magdalene institution. The women are shown as underfed and made to suffer in various ways as "penance" for their "sins". The women are not allowed to speak with anyone outside of the institution.
  • A woman attempts suicide via hanging with a sheet, however is saved by other women in her dormitory.
  • A mentally disabled woman is sexually abused while institutionalized. In one scene she is shown performing fellatio on her abuser.
  • A woman threatens to stab a nun as they struggle.
  • A woman's hair is violently chopped off by nuns as a form of punishment, during which her face becomes smeared with blood. We later see her blood-encrusted eye looking back at itself in a mirror. A nun tells her she has been "purified" from her "vanity" in this process.


  • Quite a lot of sexualized verbal abuse such as "slut" and "whore" directed at the women in the institution. Some heavy swearing during particularly intense moments, however not constant.
  • Several uses of the words fuck, bitch, slut, whore, bloody. One use of cunt, one use of bollocks, one use of bastard.

Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • *Note* - The DVD version contains a short film from the director called "Close" (1993). This is considerably more dark and violent than the main feature and caused the overall rating to be raised from 15 to 18 in both the UK and Ireland.
  • The whole film is emotional, themes are intense and heavy. Relationships between characters are often strained and grim, with speech and behavior at times seeming misanthropic or nihilistic. Many forms of abuse are demonstrated throughout the film.
  • A woman is raped at the beginning.
  • A young woman's baby is forcibly taken away from her, shortly after she's been through labor. Her parents are involved, and they refuse to listen to her or acknowledge her baby.
  • Institutionalized sexual abuse.
  • Beatings and humiliation perpetrated on the women working in the laundry, by the nuns.
  • Domestic/familial violence involving a father beating his daughter while rejecting her pleas for home, safety, and family.
  • A woman's hair is cut off in a violent assault involving several nuns. Her face is bloodied, and she is later told the attack was for her salvation.


The Parents Guide items below may give away important plot points.

Sex & Nudity

  • A girl lifts her skirt to show a man her sex organs as she attempts to bargain with him for an offer of marriage or some other guarantee that he will take her away from the Magdalene institution. No nudity is shown.
  • Several women are forced to stand up naked, with full frontal nudity shown. The nuns make a game out of shaming the women about their bodies by declaring a winner for the one with the most pubic hair, a winner for the biggest breasts, a winner for the smallest breasts, etc. This is clearly meant as intimidation and humiliation, with the women grimacing in distress while submitting to commands from the nuns.
  • Institutionalized sexual abuse of a mentally disabled woman by a priest. The victim is shown performing fellatio on a priest. Another woman who witnesses this later tries to speak to the victim about the abuse. No nudity is shown.

Violence & Gore

  • A young woman is beaten by her father with a belt while he returns her to the Magdalene institution, following her runaway attempt. She pleads with him in desperation while he tells her she is dead to the family and calls her a slut. Her face is bloody during this scene.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • A mentally disabled woman who's been abused sexually by a priest is forcibly removed from her dormitory by several nuns suddenly in the night. She struggles and screams. This follows a scene in which she and a priest are both shown to have the same poison ivy inflammation, and she has publicly called him out as "not a man of god".

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