The film is set in 1964, Ireland where men were men and girls were girls with little or no rights. The story line focuses on the Catholic Church's most infamous institutions and three of the young girls, Rose, Bernadette and Margaret, who are sent there by their families. The head nun, Sister Bridget (Geraldine McEwan) gives an outstanding performance and portrays the stereo-typical nun of olden days. The type you are afraid of.
Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff), is rapped by her cousin at family wedding so she was removed due to arousing the young man. Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone), grew up in an Orphanage and when caught flirting with some boys over the fence, she was sent to Magdalene. Rose (Dorothy Duffy), had a child out of wedlock and her parents refused to even look at their grandchild, forcing () to sign papers giving the new baby away. She was then sent to Magdalene. It is here where the girls suffer endless humiliation and physical labor, as they work in the laundry room making money for the convent.
The girls are not aloud to speak to one another but instead spend their entire existence at Magdalene in the laundry room or being preached to at the supper table. Reaching out to any other girl in the form of conversation or compassion, was strictly forbidden and punishable by whippings or hair removal from their heads. There's nothing happy about their lives at this place and some like Crispina (Eileen Walsh), are driven mad while others do eventually find freedom. The Magdalene was closed in 1996 as well as other boarding type schools like it.
Some of the awards for the movie are:
2003 - The Magdalene Sisters - National Board of Review - Freedom of Expression Award.
2002 - The Magdalene Sisters - Toronto International Film Festival - Discovery Award.
2002 - The Magdalene Sisters - Venice International Film Festival - Golden Lion.
Director: Peter Mullan
Writer: Peter Mullan
Producer: Frances Higson