7.7/10
25,499
197 user 158 critic

The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

R | | Drama | 29 August 2003 (USA)
Trailer
1:20 | Trailer
Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.

Director:

Peter Mullan

Writer:

Peter Mullan
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 18 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Geraldine McEwan ... Sister Bridget
Anne-Marie Duff ... Margaret
Nora-Jane Noone ... Bernadette
Dorothy Duffy ... Rose / Patricia
Eileen Walsh ... Crispina
Mary Murray ... Una
Britta Smith ... Katy
Frances Healy Frances Healy ... Sister Jude
Eithne McGuinness Eithne McGuinness ... Sister Clementine
Phyllis MacMahon ... Sister Augusta (as Phyllis McMahon)
Rebecca Walsh Rebecca Walsh ... Josephine
Eamonn Owens ... Eamonn
Chris Patrick-Simpson ... Brendan (as Chris Simpson)
Sean Colgan Sean Colgan ... Seamus
Daniel Costello Daniel Costello ... Father Fitzroy
Learn more

More Like This 

Sex in a Cold Climate (TV Movie 1998)
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

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).

Director: Steve Humphries
Stars: Dervla Kirwan, Martha Cooney, Christina Mulcahy
Orphans (1998)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Four siblings gathered together for their mother's funeral in Glasgow face individual torments over night during a tumultuous storm that rips the roof off the church.

Director: Peter Mullan
Stars: Douglas Henshall, Gary Lewis, Rosemarie Stevenson
Neds (2010)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Encompassed by violent street gangs, neglectful parents, bullying teachers and a dearth of positive role models, a studious but emotionally abandoned kid turns thug.

Director: Peter Mullan
Stars: Conor McCarron, Greg Forrest, Joe Szula
Tyrannosaur (2011)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker.

Director: Paddy Considine
Stars: Peter Mullan, Archie Lal, Jag Sanghera
Bloody Sunday (2002)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A dramatization of the Irish civil rights protest march and subsequent massacre by British troops on January 30, 1972.

Director: Paul Greengrass
Stars: James Nesbitt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nicholas Farrell
Vera Drake (2004)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Abortionist Vera Drake finds her beliefs and practices clash with the mores of 1950s Britain--a conflict that leads to tragedy for her family.

Director: Mike Leigh
Stars: Imelda Staunton, Jim Broadbent, Heather Craney
Fridge (1995)
Short | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In a squalid tenement building in Glasgow, two toughs lock a helpless young boy inside a broken fridge-freezer.

Director: Peter Mullan
Stars: Gary Lewis, Vicki Masson, Laurie Ventry
Sinners (TV Movie 2002)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Set in the ultra conservative Ireland of the 60s, Catholic Theresa is in trouble in a country where women are punished if they become pregnant out of wedlock.

Director: Aisling Walsh
Stars: Anne-Marie Duff, Doireann Ní Chorragáin, Siomha Murray
Away from Her (2006)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A man coping with the institutionalization of his wife because of Alzheimer's disease faces an epiphany when she transfers her affections to another man, Aubrey, a wheelchair-bound mute who also is a patient at the nursing home.

Director: Sarah Polley
Stars: Julie Christie, Michael Murphy, Gordon Pinsent
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two thirtysomethings, unemployed former alcoholic Joe and community health worker Sarah, start a romantic relationship in the one of the toughest Glasgow neighbourhoods.

Director: Ken Loach
Stars: Peter Mullan, Louise Goodall, Gary Lewis
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A young woman conceals the fact of her terminal cancer to live her life with a passion she never had before.

Director: Isabel Coixet
Stars: Sarah Polley, Scott Speedman, Mark Ruffalo
Facade (2020)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  

A detail of random people are told that they are a part of a live testing for data on their reactions in the woods without any technology at their disposal . . . when in reality they are ... See full summary »

Director: Dakota Gamble
Stars: Paul Logan, Gregory Blair, Ben Butler
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film shows the asylum experimenting with washing machines. The widespread adaptation of the household appliance would become a significant factor to the asylums' economic viability being fatally undermined and led to their ultimate closure. See more »

Goofs

When Bernadette's hair is cut off she has some blood on her face. Not nearly as much as the close up of her with blood running down her face and caked on around her eyes. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in The 2004 IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
(uncredited)
Traditional Christmas carol
Sung off-screen by an unidentified man (possibly Ford Kiernan) with chorus
See more »

User Reviews

 
The other, other kind of terrorism.
1 December 2004 | by Anonymous_MaxineSee all my reviews

I inadvertently found myself watching a whole string of movies the other day about people being tortured or torturing themselves, without even looking for movies like that. I saw The Magdalene Sisters, Osama, and that IMAX film Everest, all in the same day, and was surprised at their similarities, particularly between the first two. The Magdalene Sisters and Osama are strikingly similar in that they are both about religious terrorism, specifically centered around women. Osama was a look at how the Taliban keeps women under tight control, not allowing them even the tiniest freedom (indeed, women could be arrested and severely punished for such crimes as walking alone in public or speaking to a man, even for such dangerous statements as, 'My father is sick.'), while The Magdalene Sisters is about the Catholic Church in Ireland in disturbingly recent times, severely punishing women as a result of what appears to be the Church's frothing and highly irrational fear of sex.

The film focuses on the plights of three women in particular, who have all committed 'crimes' of varying nature but who are all punished by being sent to the Magdalene laundry for an indefinite period of time. One girl, Rose, commits the greatest crime having a child out of wedlock, which neither of her parents will even look at. Interestingly, she had the child because an abortion would have been a sin. Bernadette makes the mortal mistake of flirting with boys outside the orphanage she lived in, and Margaret is raped at a family gathering by a cousin, only to be shipped off herself when she reports it to family members.

At the Magdalene laundry, the girls are subjected to psychological abuse and endless physical toil, all under the old theory that it will cleanse their souls. Some of the women that the three girls in question encounter as they enter the laundry have been there for decades, and they eventually figure out that the only way that they are ever going to get out of there is to escape. Bernadette is especially aware of this, and makes increasing efforts to escape, for which she is brutally punished.

I am genuinely curious to know what path of logic leads people to believe that such practices in the name of religion can have any beneficial value. The Taliban has taken religious torture to its extreme, debasing themselves and their religion by performing unbelievably inhuman acts in the name of their God, and it appears that, while certainly not on the same level of cruelty, the Catholic Church has performed similar crimes against humanity. That the Catholic Church in Ireland promptly condemned the film is not surprising, but if such things are being committed under its name (and indeed continued being committed well into the late 1990s), I should think that the Church would at least allow the film to be shown so that people would be aware of such abuses, which tarnish the reputation of the Church. I believe that it would have been possible for the Church to defend its own validity while at the same time acknowledging abuses committed in its name, especially if the accusations of cruelty were untrue, although in this case they were not. Running, however, only makes you look guilty.

The Magdalene laundry is presided over by a nun who is simply evil. She is an elderly lady and generally soft-spoken, but this woman makes the wicked witch of the west look like a prancing schoolgirl. The viciousness of the rest of the Sisters of Mercy radiates off of this woman like some kind of sinister force, delicately but successfully walking the line between illustrating the harshness of a brutal religious regime and creating a movie monster. Her character is human, but she's not far from being a monster.

It's disheartening to see the things that people do in the name of religion, especially when the crimes are something as little as behaving like a normal person. There are natural and perfectly healthy behaviors that unfortunately are violations of arbitrary religious laws, which are subsequently punished with outlandish punishments like those seen in this movie. Religion is thrown into reverse, causing pain and suffering rather than offering an escape from it, shown in a modern setting that is so backwards that it could just as easily have taken place in the 1600s.


108 of 129 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 197 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

Ireland | UK

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Magdalene Sisters See more »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$84,553, 3 August 2003

Gross USA:

$4,890,878

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,107,578
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Your Next Binge Watch Awaits

Looking for something to watch? Check out IMDb's "What to Watch" series to find out what's really worth watching.



Recently Viewed