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Overall Rating
4.44

Awesome61.64%
Worth A Look: 30.14%
Average: 1.37%
Pretty Bad: 4.11%
Total Crap: 2.74%

5 reviews, 43 user ratings


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Magdalene Sisters, The
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by Joe Cooper

"The Magdalene Sisters is a soul-shaking film about hope and endurance."
5 stars

Peter Mullenís controversial The Magdalene Sisters is an astonishing film that opens the mind and bleeds the heart as it exposes a true modern day horror. It reveals the shocking story of the Catholic Churchís Magdalene Asylums, and the appalling crimes committed within their walls.

The Magdalene Asylums were established in Ireland during the nineteenth century, and were governed by the Catholic order of nuns known as the Sisters of Mercy. These institutions were designed to provide a source of penance for young women who were deemed to have sinned in the eyes of the church and its devout followers. With their sins suitably cleansed, the girls were to be released back into respectable society.

However, rather than being freed after a short penance, many young Catholic women were left to spend their entire lives inside the walls of the Magdalene Asylums. Until their final closure in 1996, itís estimated that some 30,000 innocent women were held against their will by the nuns, to live and die under truly appalling conditions.

Set in the 1960s, The Magdalene Sisters follows just four of the many young women thrust into the horrors of the asylums. Disowned by their families for Ďmoral crimesí no greater than becoming pregnant out of wedlock, Rose (Dorothy Duffy), Crispina (Emma Walsh), Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone), and Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff) suddenly discover the system of torture and slavery that the Sisters of Mercy pass off as penance. A relentless stream of hard, unpaid labour in the nunsí sweatshop commercial laundry is only broken by harsh whippings and cruel humiliations.

The horrendous abuse is initially tolerated, as the girls believe that their release from the asylum must be imminent. Unfortunately, weeks, months, and eventually years of inhumane treatment tick by with little word from the outside world, and absolutely no indication that theyíll ever be released. With despair growing in their hearts, the four are forced to accept the possibility of a lifetime of abuse and a lonely death within a Magdalene Asylum.

The Magdalene Sisters features a superb, if mostly unknown, cast. Newcomer Nora-Jane Noone is mesmerising and polished as the fiery Bernadette. Her performance belies the fact that before her selection in The Magdalene Sisters, Noone was living the life of an average student, working towards her science degree at the National University of Ireland. She graces the screen like a seasoned professional, when her only acting experience has been in small-scale amateur campus productions. Should she not be seduced by the temptations of a science lab, The Magdalene Sisters will herald the beginning of an illustrious acting career.

Director Mullanís stable of new talent also includes Emma Walsh. As Crispina, Walsh excels in dragging the viewer through her disturbing transformation from a bewildered and anxious young woman to a truly tormented soul. For her remarkable efforts, she collected a Best Newcomer award at the British Independent Film Awards.

The Magdalene Sisters poses some long overdue questions to the Catholic Church. As of the present, the victims of what amounts to slavery and torture have not received basic acknowledgement, let alone an apology or financial compensation. However, thanks to Peter Mullanís skill as a screenwriter and director, and the courage heís displayed in raising such a controversial topic, the matter is gaining significant momentum.

In an age where corporate glass ceilings top the feminist agenda, and human rights abuses under totalitarian regimes dominate the headlines, The Magdalene Sisters is a timely reminder that monstrous crimes against women and humanity in general can still be found very close to home. Mullanís creation is, without a doubt, the most socially significant film of the year.

Whilst not for the faint hearted, The Magdalene Sisters carves a lasting impression and should be seen by every adult for its revelations and for its tale of hope and endurance. Itís a soul-shaking film that deserves the full five stars.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7415&reviewer=335
originally posted: 04/05/03 11:12:49
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2003 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE, OFFENSIVE TRIPE 1 stars
4/21/07 action movie fan lacks the punch that boys of st vincent had 2 stars
2/28/07 Beau great performances, but it was too cliched olden times!! not my fortae 2 stars
7/20/06 Sarah Unbelievable movie best I've seen in ages 5 stars
2/21/06 Jen Chilling, disturbing, infuriating. 5 stars
8/21/05 bigbill catholocism, irish-a horrible mixture of ignorance and cruelty 5 stars
6/09/05 Jeanne Horrifying. These women had NO RIGHTS in their own country. All the actors were BRILLIANT. 5 stars
6/07/05 Kyence Simply incredible film. The horror is mesmerizing, forcing one to see it to the bitter end. 5 stars
4/01/05 Elly This movie was BRILLIANT! Leaves you speechless. Takes your breath away. Absolutly amazing. 5 stars
10/16/04 Tam Deeply moving film with sublime performances. You won't stop thinking about it for ages. 5 stars
7/20/04 Taylor Fladgate "Midnight Express", Irish Catholic style. 5 stars
3/15/04 Sarkofuck Great movie 5 stars
3/04/04 Thom Saw months ago...still haunts me 5 stars
10/01/03 Jinnvisible A reminder that cruelty is still at large in small minds ,,, well acted harrowing drama 4 stars
9/16/03 john i liked it 5 stars
9/05/03 mary natale mothers and fathers beating and abandoning their precious daughters in the name of god. 5 stars
9/04/03 limerick Unbelievable acting. May the evil doers(nuns or priests) rot in hell 5 stars
9/03/03 Angie Heart The power of this (true life) heartbreaker was diminished by over-the-top direction. 3 stars
9/01/03 Talisha Hunt Enlightening, and moving film. I thought nors jane noone was captivating as a temptress. 5 stars
8/27/03 Zwee I like this film. 5 stars
8/27/03 Jesse I can't stop thinking about it 5 stars
8/26/03 N. Rosen Timely and extraordinarily thought provoking; fabulous performances 5 stars
8/21/03 S. Scallan A very good, necessary film on a subject long hidden and ignored. 5 stars
8/16/03 Sly Massa Great Film 5 stars
8/14/03 becky the best film i've ever seen in my entire life 5 stars
8/04/03 blinky most brilliant filmny n 5 stars
7/29/03 Edgar nora-jane noone, I loved you!!! 5 stars
7/26/03 raed it is very sexy 2 stars
7/19/03 gringoyo Brave screenplay, editing Nora-Jane Noone is going to go places 4 stars
7/08/03 n great 5 stars
7/02/03 ilicit easyly one of the best moives ive seen this year 5 stars
6/18/03 brad USA GO SEE THIS MOVIE IN AUG 2003 5 stars
6/11/03 Rocky I seen this movie and I hated it! It rips off "the hours"! Blam this piece of shit!! 1 stars
5/21/03 M HARKNESS VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING 5 stars
5/18/03 Judith Mac Mullan A tuching movie and proof that the clergy are as rotten & evil as the next person!!! 5 stars
4/30/03 karen boone thought provoking, incredibly hard to understand the extrent of reality 4 stars
4/28/03 Ingo Very gripping movie, but sometimes too foreseeable... 4 stars
4/25/03 ALEX These stories need to be told - so that it never happens again 5 stars
4/22/03 Trish Move over Colin Farrel - Chris Simpson as Brendan in the Magdalene Sisters ouses sex appeal 5 stars
4/22/03 kyree it's touching, and has a very strong story 5 stars
4/19/03 John Bale OUTSTANDING. Finely crafted and acted, with suspense pathos and human spirit. Don't Miss ! 5 stars
4/17/03 mr. Pink Will be seen as one of the best of 2003. Institutionalized religions: AAAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!! 5 stars
4/08/03 Zwee U better watch it!! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  01-Aug-2003 (R)
  DVD: 23-Mar-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  17-Apr-2003




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