Starring: Eileen Walsh, Dorothy Duffy, Nora-Jane Noone
Director: Peter Mullan
Running Time: 119 mins
The Magdalene Sisters is an Irish film about the true story of three young women who were forced to live in a convent against their will, and effectively enslaved by the brutal sisters who controlled the establishments.
This is a pretty heavy-going, brutal but incredibly powerful historical drama. It’s a consistently moving and intriguing story of a titanic struggle that’s almost impossible to believe, but it keeps you hooked on a plot that you would otherwise have thought very little of.
The most interesting thing about this film is that, despite it fitting the criteria for Oscar bait, much like the 2013 film Philomena which follows a similar story, it doesn’t feel at all pushy or melodramatic, but genuinely emotional and true.
The main reason for that is its extreme depiction of both emotional and physical trauma that many of the women who were captured in these effective prisons, which is in no way pleasant or nice to watch, but it leaves a powerfully lasting impact on you as you watch in horror at what’s happening.
In a way, this could be comparable to films like 12 Years A Slave, because it is a harrowing story of a long enslavement that will both terrify you and tug at your heartstrings, although this film is much more captivating and painful to watch.
The plot follows three young women who have been forced into the same convent, and various horrifying episodes from their lives there, each turning out in a completely unpredictable and different way. As a result, this is a much more exciting film than most historical dramas, and it will definitely wholly engross you from start to finish, putting you on the edge of your seat despite not being thrilling, just fascinating.
It’s also interesting to see the way that this film paints the nuns and the Catholic Church in general in such a negative light. It’s not in any way offensive to Catholics, but it brings up very interesting criticisms of the more brutal and restrictive rules and practices of Catholicism that add an extra level of depth and modern intrigue to the story.
Overall, this gets an 8.0 from me, because it’s a shockingly harrowing depiction of a painful true story that will both horrify and enthral you right the way through.