The Magdalene Sisters Reviews
it's worth watching
the cruelty and absurdity depicted here was inspired by horrors which were all too real, suffered by apparently tens of thousands of Irish women in the 20th century. I wasn't at all surprised at the villainy of the nuns and priests, I understand how unchecked power works. What shocked and saddened me was the unbridled hatred of the parents for their own children. I still don't understand how this was so. It could entirely be the influence of the church, but in mid 20th century Ireland I'd bet even the devout didn't follow every single letter of church law every second of every day. There must have been something else in the culture that allowed fathers to so readily hate their daughters. In Medieval Europe, fear of the nature and power of female sexuality was a prominent feature of society, and was easily connected to fear of the supernatural. This fear was easily turned to hatred, and is in large part responsible for the witch panics that were ginned up to control the populace. Fear is the most powerful agent of control, which is why terrorism will forever endure as a tactic. What is depicted here is a fully alive and powerful manifestation of the medieval fear-turned-hatred of women's sexuality, apparently little changed in Ireland in the intervening centuries. The last Magdalene Laundry was closed in 1996. Not 1896, 1996.
As a film, some have found a variety of things to criticize, yet it undeniably accomplishes what Peter Mullan set out to do. The performances are top notch, although hard to watch, especially with the case of the mentally challenged girl. The final shot of this poor girl left to rot in solitary confinement still angers and haunts me. This is a powerhouse film but I couldn't really recommend it to anyone. It is the sort of piece which should be kept around as an eternal cautionary tale, not just in regard to the churches but to all those in positions of power, and to all societies and individuals who may fall into the grip of fear and hatred, even of their own children.