Movie Details

One of the Catholic Church's most infamous institutions is the focus of this controversial independent feature from Scottish actor and erstwhile director Peter Mullan. Set in 1964, The Magdalene Sisters hones in on the Magdalene convent, a place where purportedly wayward young women have been sent by their families for reform. Many of the girls are locked up in the institution for questionable "sins," and the movie presents several of them as case studies: Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff), who is sent away after being sexually assaulted by a cousin at a wedding; Rose (Dorothy Duffy) and Crispina (Eileen Walsh), who are both unwed mothers; and Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone), whose licentiousness has raised the ire of her former orphanage. It soon becomes clear that the reformatory is more of a manual-labor prison, however, as their girls are forced to work long hours and endure endless physical humiliation and abuse at the hands of the head nun, Sister Bridget (Geraldine McEwan). As their degradation at the hands of the convent's administrators increases, each girl plots her escape, but each finds that she's never far enough from the sisters' all-encompassing reach. The Magdalene Sisters premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it was awarded the festival's top prize, the Golden Lion; the Vatican officially condemned the film after its premiere. ~ Michael Hastings, Rovi