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DVD Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


The Magdale Sisters DVD

The Bottom Line

Peter Mullins' "The Magdalene Sisters" is a bold, shocking and powerful film that recreates a shameful period in Irish history through the fictional stories of three girls. The film will reduce you to quivering in your seat; if you are susceptible to crying at films, prepare to cry.
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  • Powerful film
  • Amazing performances
  • Winner: Best Picture, Venice Film Festival


  • Unrelenting Bleak (until triumphant ending)


  • Starring: Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy, and Geraldine McEwan.
  • Directed by Peter Mullins (Orphans).
  • DVD special features include acclaimed original expose "Sex In A Cold Climate."
  • Marcy's #2 top film of 2003.
  • Screened at the New York International film Festival.
  • Rated R.
  • A Miramax Home Entertainment release.

Guide Review - DVD Review

Up until the 1960s, Catholic girls accused of "moral crimes" against society were sent to work in laundries to atone for their sexual sins. These asylums, known as the Magdalene Asylums, were virtual prisons for what is estimated to be roughly 30,000 innocent young Irish women. Abandoned by their families, they often served life-terms, performing slave labor for the Catholic Church, toiling in abysmal conditions, and suffering mental, physical, and sexual abuse from the nuns and priests who were supposedly responsible for the inmates spiritual reformation.

The three girls who shape the narrative of the film are Margaret, Rose, and Bernadette. Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff) is raped by her cousin at a wedding and makes the mistake of telling her family. Rose (Dorothy Duffy) has given birth to an illegitimate child. Orphan Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone) is extraordinarily pretty; the young girls at the orphanage want to brush her hair, and local boys try to flirt with her. These are the girls' "crimes." They are sent to the Magadelene Ayslums on the same day.

We watch them slowly comprehend the horror of their fate, and as the years pass, they adjust to the horrific reality of their lives at the asylum. The varying ways these women cope with their circumstances –- from mental breakdowns to wielding heavy golden candelabras at the heads of cowering nuns -- is spellbinding.

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