Written/Directed: Peter Mullan
Staring: Nora-Jane Noone, Anne-Marie Duff, Dorothy
Duffy, Eileen Walsh
"She's gonna end up in Africa working with the lepers!
Anything that sticks out, falls off."
Magdalene Sisters tells the almost true story of three Irish
women interned in hellish asylums for the mere crime of
being too sexual according to their good catholic upbringing
(one girl is a flirt, one girl had a child out of wedlock,
and one girl got raped at a wedding).Yes, it's one of those
movies; a tug at the heart-strings and make you feel shitty
for living a happy life movie. This might even top Schindler's
List for how awful you feel about yourself after you're
done watching it.
The Magdalene asylums (named after Mary Magdalene, "The
whore who got with Jesus") were, the movie would have
us know, tortuous towers filled with the most evil nuns
on the earth, to which all the slutty girls in Ireland were
shipped off and forced to do laundry until they were deemed
worthy and pure enough to return to society. They are a
black spot on Ireland's otherwise perfect history which
has been a national secret for many years. While the movie
is set somewhere in the 1960's the asylums remained open
One of the problems with the movie is it paints the asylums
in such a dark manner that one can't help but pull back
a little and question the veracity of what really happened.
The movie is partially true in that these asylums actually
existed and the script is based on accounts from many eye-witnesses
and girls who had been interned, yet the feel of it is something
that borders on the fantastical - as though it's an allegorical
commentary on human nature, rather than an actual piece
of human history.
The Magdalene Sisters is reminiscent of last years Rabbit
Proof Fence, only with that movie, the bad guys are presented
as something more than simply evil. Even though you are
never meant to side with the government or the people who
are tracking the three girls, you do get a glimpse into
what's making them tick, they are presented as actual people.
In this movie, however, all of the bad guys are simply that:
bad. Even the parents of these girls are stony faced and
unemotional - expressing no love whatsoever for their children.
I find this too hard to swallow. And lets not even get into
how ridiculously evil the nuns were. Mother Superior's Irish
brogue would occasionally dip into what can only be described
as a German SS trooper's accent, let's just leave it at
As for our three main characters, the only 'good' characters
in the story, the only thing I can really liken them to
is the Powerpuff Girls without the super powers. Black haired
Bernadette is a perfect Buttercup, feisty and rebellious
and hot-headed. Innocent and sweet, Rose is a duplicate
of Bubbles, if Bubbles was Irish and had just given up her
bastard child. And Margaret, plain but strong and determined
rounds out the trio. While the three girls are obviously
distinct in there characters, and are driven by very different
forces, in the beginning of the movie, the three women have
about as much life as the three animated girls. Fortunately
as the movie progresses they do fill out, and grow as characters.
In the end you have a considerable emotional attachment
to the girls and you are really rooting for them to escape,
so the movie does its job. But ultimately it never does
justice to the atrocities it's trying to illuminate.
Four dames Judi Dench
While the acting all around is decent, this acting rating
is all for Eileen Walsh who plays Crispina, one of the other
girls interned in the asylum. And she is fucking amazing.
It's almost worth seeing the entire movie just for her "You're
not a man of god" scene. Plus you get to see a naked
fat man running through a field which is always hilarious.
One disheveled island (that's supposed to be Ireland)
Cinema-wise, Ireland has now dipped below Wales and officially
become the least interesting country in the UK. It was up
there for a while with movies like I Went Down, but now-a-days
I'd rather sit around and watch potatoes ferment into vodka
than see a movie set on this god forsaken isle.
Two Hipsters, wearing potato sacks and covered in lye
I could never get around how archetyped and clichéd
the move felt. None of the characters felt very human, and
so the stories never felt very real. Other critics and audiences
have really, really liked it however
but none of them
are as cool as me.