7.8/10
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The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

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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.

Director:

Peter Mullan

Writer:

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

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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 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
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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:

The triumphant story of three women who found the courage to defy a century of injustice. 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 »
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Details

Country:

Ireland | UK

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die unbarmherzigen Schwestern See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£88,315 (United Kingdom), 1 November 2002, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$84,553, 3 August 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,890,878, 23 November 2003

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,722,258, 6 November 2003
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 »
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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

In the beginning, a man plays a Taylor acoustic guitar. Taylor Guitars was established in 1974. 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

Special thanks to ... all at the Glasgow Film Office. See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Truly moving film
26 September 2005 | by raja-swamySee all my reviews

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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