THE MAGDALENE SISTERS

on

2002

DIRECTOR: Peter Mullan

Depressing, dark, gritty and thought provoking would be the best words to describe this film. Simply shot and told, this tells the true story of the horrific Magdalene Asylums in Ireland during the 1960’s, where wayward young women, often single mothers, were sent by their own families to be put back on the straight and narrow my Nuns.

But this was little more than an excuse for slave labour, as the girls were only be released when the families and church agreed, and some seemed to spend their entire lives there. But to this film’s credit and that of writer/director Peter Mullan, who’s own cameo was all the more poignant as he played and abusive father, this film tones down the abuses and still tells and harrowing tale.

A moving and disturbing look at religious fundamentalism but this from the Catholic side, as a strong and simple message that extremism comes in many forms and since the last of these slave laundries was only closed in 1996, this just goes to show how recently these backwards institutions have been tolerated. Apartheid was already done and dusted six years earlier, and these horrors were taking place on our own doorsteps.

Peter Mullan has done a great job with this film, holding back and not sensationalising the story, retaining its sense of reality and shining a light on yet another dark chapter in Catholicism’s chequered history and hopefully, one of the last.

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