THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (2002)

Written & Directed by: Peter Mullan
Cinematography: Nigel Willoghby
Editor: Colin Monie

Cast: Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy, Eileen Walsh, Mary Murray, Brita Smith, Frances Healy, Geraldine Ewan, Phyllis Macmahon, Eithne Mcguniess

Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.


This is a harrowing story of survival and injustice. Where young women were forced into indentured slavery to a degree. As they were made to be subservient to priests and nuns at monasteries and convents. For supposedly being bad girls but usually see being attacked or abused sexually or even thought if for being non chaste.

In the first act of the film, we see the three characters who we will follow their daily lives and what lead them to be Sent to this asylum. The next act is their lives in the asylum and the third act is an escape attempt. 

Then once sent away being made to be tortured and abused by the church. From molesting and raping priests In Servitude. While the church makes money off of their slave labor. 

This film allows us to be brought into the situation by three protagonists who are sent there we see what leads them here before interacting with one another as we hear snippets of other women’s stories while being preyed upon by the nuns who are the main tormentors. As they believe the girls deserve it as sinners and that they themselves are in service to god. So they are the more mighty.

The film is a powerful historical dramatization as well as a strong movie that doesn’t offer any conventional Cookie cutter answers or depictions. Even when some are released there are no emotional goodbyes or promises to help get them out. It makes you want to learn more about the history of the subjects the film offers. As it is such an immersive experience.

This film easily could have gone into exploitation. Though luckily the film is meant to show what they go through without getting bogged down in any graphic depictions of sex and violence.

Though it does manage to keep the tension high and filled with drama. We watch the Female protagonists and see how each in their own way survives and gets released or makes their getaway. How it scars then and haunts one especially even past their supposed escape.

The film is hard to sit through due to the victimization that went on until the 1960s and was never brought justice. As the audience watches, they can feel the pain

What makes this move unsettling is the fact that It’s a true story. Which is also what makes it so unforgettable. It’s a history lesson and a survival story about a time no one really talks about and you see and experience the horrors of the characters. Though the actual people who survived the asylum said it was much worse then depicted. 

Grade:B+