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114 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why fear hell when you're already there?
Why fear hell when already there?
As if the Holy Roman Catholic Church hasn't had enough PR problems lately, now there's THE MAGDALENE SISTERS.
Based on a true story, this film follows the experiences of three young Irish woman thrust into a Magdalene Asylum, administered by the Catholic Church through the Sisters of Mercy (aka THE MAGDALENE SISTERS), for...
Published on 22 Oct 2003 by Joseph Haschka

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars magdalene sisters
only gave 3 stars as it was true to fact but it was an upsetting movie but l expect it went on and it must have been horrific to the girls and their families having no choice
Published 2 months ago by house elf


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114 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why fear hell when you're already there?, 22 Oct 2003
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Why fear hell when already there?
As if the Holy Roman Catholic Church hasn't had enough PR problems lately, now there's THE MAGDALENE SISTERS.
Based on a true story, this film follows the experiences of three young Irish woman thrust into a Magdalene Asylum, administered by the Catholic Church through the Sisters of Mercy (aka THE MAGDALENE SISTERS), for perceived sexual immorality. Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff), who dares cry "rape" after she's sexually assaulted by a cousin at a family wedding. Rose, who gives birth to an illegitimate child. Bernadette, already in an orphanage, who's just an outrageous flirt with the lads. In the asylum, the three join others, some having been detained for a lifetime, in a brutal 24/7 regimen of prayer, work, and sleep without contact with the outside world. The work involved 8-10 hours per day of unpaid toil, i.e. atonement for sin, in the institution's sweat shop laundry - a business that earned considerable money for the Church. The prisoners - for that's what they truly are - endure bad food, physical beatings, sexual abuse, psychological trauma, and abject humiliation at the hands of the nuns and priests.
The Magdalene Asylums were a feature of 20th century Ireland, places of incarceration reserved for "fallen" women, a flexible term that included anyone considered to be in moral peril. The plot of this film takes place in the early 1960s and stretches over four to five years. (The last Irish asylum was closed in 1996. It's estimated that approximately 30,000 women were incarcerated in these facilities over the decades. Interestingly, it was the advent of household washers and dryers that contributed to the end of the asylum laundries.)
Have no misconceptions, the plot of this devastating and emotionally powerful film is unrelentingly gritty. There's little happiness to be had by the three young women, brilliantly played by the three named actresses, and their fellow sufferers. Also superb in a supporting role is Geraldine McEwan as Sister Bridget, the asylum's manic Mother Superior, who loves old western films and the laundry's cash revenue nearly as much as her God, and who apparently harbors a deep hatred of female sexuality. And Eileen Walsh as Crispina, another unwed mother, who barely comprehends her trespass, and whose fate is achingly tragic.
THE MAGDALENE SISTERS was filmed in Dumfries, Scotland, rather than Ireland to avoid political opposition and controversy. The shock to the viewer is that such institutionalized cruelty could have existed in a modern, Western society until so recently. After all, we're not talking about repression of women in the Taliban's Afghanistan here.
Writer/Director Peter Mullan included in the cast, as Sister Augusta, a woman named Phyllis McMahon, a former nun in a Magdalene Asylum. When asked by Mullen what went so wrong in the asylums that nuns did these things, she answered:
"Absence of doubt. We had no doubts about what we did." The rationale of fanatics everywhere.
I was born and raised a Catholic, and "fell away" in young adulthood. THE MAGDALENE SISTERS made me angry. Without doubt, it also merits Oscar consideration in the Best Foreign Film category.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspriation for the film, 15 Mar 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Just watched this wonderful, shocking, upsetting movie - aside from the praise given to the film in the other reviews here, I wanted to add that for those interested, director Peter Mullan was first inspired to make this movie by the Joni Mitchell song The Magdalene Launderies, from the album Turbulent Indigo. It certainly adds to your understanding of this horrible chapter in history.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magdaline Sisters, 6 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This is a powerful and compelling film which is superbly written and directed by Peter Mullen. The acting is first class, with outstanding and believable performances by the entire cast.
If you like lightweight stuff churned out of the hollywood machine, then this film is probably not for you. However, if you enjoy a powerful story that is crafted to the highest quality, a film that will move you emotionally and make you think, then buy this film and watch it...then watch it again. It is truly superb. You will not be dissapointed.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magdalene Sisters, 30 Nov 2003
By A Customer
The Magdalene Sisters really does live up to its reputation as a shocking and thought provoking film thats truly well worth watching. The film is a gripping testament to the human spirit and the story is brilliantly acted throughout, the fact thats its based on true events so close to our times makes it even more moving. Be prepared for somewhat disturbing scenes but also for a truly amazing film that i strongly recommend to anyone.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must see, 22 Feb 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I can't believe this topic isn't more widely recognized. The film is brilliantly played, mostly by all new actresses. The film has helped put the Church in the spotlight and many women to talk about their pasts in these places.
Lots of other reviews tell you what it's about...I know it sounds terrible, but really it's a superbly done film on a topic you should have a lot of feelings about, especially people living here in the UK where these things happened until more recently than anyone would like to admit
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What have we done to deserve this?", 31 May 2004
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
It is shocking to watch a movie that is based on a true story and that shows the events this one shows. In Ireland, until the end of the twentieth century, there were "nun schools" all over the country. Girls were abandoned there by their families or tutors entering a world of slavery, having to work doing laundry for outside contractors and being treated like prisoners in a labor farm. The director, Peter Mullan, did an outstanding job in conveying to the public the conditions in which the girls spent their hours, as well as depicting the eroding effect the situation had on their hopes, ambitions, and even basic personality traits.
The tale focuses on three female adolescents, who end up in the infamous reformatory for different reasons. Margaret is raped by her cousin on a family wedding, and when minutes after the fact she tells a friend, the "secret" is shared with everyone. Her father cannot stand the shame and hauls her off to her miserable destination. Bernadette is happy living in an orphanage, but she is also beautiful and enjoys the attention she is getting from the boys in the neighborhood. The director of the orphanage starts to get concerned and sends her away. Rose is a single mother who has just given birth to a beautiful baby. Her parents bring in a priest to convince her to give the baby up in adoption, and once she surrenders to their wishes, her reward is to pay a long visit to the nuns.
The motto of the Magdalene sisters is to deny pleasures and seek cleansing through non-stop working. Moreover, they force the girls to pray every night, and the discipline is worse than in the strictest military school. What makes things even scarier is that the sisters held adult women as "prisoners" too, since these individuals have lost all lucidity and have grown used to their way of living. Of course, while the recluses eat disgusting food, the nuns feast on delicacies and enjoy the money earned through the effort of others.
Most of the aspects of the movie are outstanding and the experience is ultimately enjoyable, but it is hard to swallow some of the things that happen to these girls. There are two performances that in my opinion shine well above the rest. Geraldine McEwan is so convincing in her role of Sister Bridget, that one hates her right away. Nora-Jane Noone plays Bernadette and does so very effectively, creating ambiguous feelings towards this character. Finally, the music in this production is worth mentioning and deserves high praise, with the song playing during the wedding in which Margaret is raped, being its best representative.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ..An Example of 20th Century Inquisition......., 18 Jan 2004
This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I had to keep pinching myself repeatedly throughout this film to remind me that it was a TRUE story about events that only recently ceased. The powerful performances from Geraldine McEwan et al, bring home the dehumanisation of women who have done no wrong, save for "offending" the catholic belief system. This is not a film to be enjoyed, but one to watch and think about, because although these institutions no longer exist in Ireland, who says they don't exist elsewhere run by the same "saviours"?
For anyone involved in human rights, this film is a must because it shows that no matter how squeaky clean an organisation professes to be, there is always a much darker side.
Given the subject and the way the truth hits the viewer, it is little wonder that this was filmed in Scotland - not Ireland.
May God forgive these evil women for what they did to those poor girls, because I cannot.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful and positively shocking, 31 Aug 2003
This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This film grabs you from the very begining to the very end. Mullan has opted for a 'naked truth' approach, stripped off any effects that would lead the sentiments to a certain direction, he leaves that to the powerful images and plot.( for example striking is the lack of music on all the shocking scenes of torture etc.)
Aided by the magnificent performances and the strong subject matter, Mullan delivers a film that operates on many levels, touching upon many issues, such as religious oppression, women's struggles etc.
One of the very few films that has made me cry with anger and sadness all five times that I've watched it.
Not recommended to strong-minded catholics. Essential viewing for everyone else.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nun Better, 31 Aug 2003
By 
Mr. K. Mccready "Kev McCreadt" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Possibly the film of the year. The Magdalene laundries operated in Ireland till 1996. "Fallen" women were taken into these institutions to wash the vestements and wimples of priests and nuns.
The story follows three women who enter one such institution.
One has a child out of wedlock, one feeling the first pangs of puberty, one raped by her cousin. We follow their lives inside, victim of the whims of the satantic Mother Superior (superbly played by Geraldine McEwan).
Although this sound dark-and it is, at times unbearably powerful-there are moments of dark humour inside. In these terms, I would compare it to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - I can pay it no higher compliment.
Writer director Peter Mullan (who also cameo's as one of the girl's Father) has crafted a small, powerful, angry, funny masterpiece. The film only loses it's way in the last 10 minutes, when we found out what happens to the girls after they leave the laundry. Although all the stories are based on real ones, this mix of fantasy and reality never really works.
This is not, as it's critics would have you believe a vicious piece of anti-catholic propaganda. It is enourmously respectful of faith and belief, it just points out as Graves said: "the true fiend rules in god's name."
Go and buy it. As a footnote, know that Magdalene laundries are still in existance in India and Eastern Europe.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, 5 Dec 2006
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This review is from: The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I think this film is an amazing, thought-provoking commentary on a chapter of history that should not be forgotten. The acting too is superb, particularly, I felt, in the performances of Nora-Jane Noone and Eileen Walsh as Bernadette and Crispina. Nora-Jane Noone succeeds perfectly in portraying an immensely complex individual, whose character arc moves between displays of feisty intelligence, increasing vidictiveness and apathy. At the same time you're forced to both love her and hate her, but with the premise of the film as it is, you really can't hate her for long.

With this film, Mullan succeeds in highlighting a tragic chapter in our history, one in which the repercussions will still be being felt for a long time to come. Although some people have accused him of creating a caricatured 'prison flick', this really is not the case. The film commands your attention throughout and definitely gets its message across.
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The Magdalene Sisters [DVD] [2003]
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