Until the Magdalene convents closed in 1996, more than 30,000 Irish women were put to work in laundry sweatshops to profit their souls and the Catholic Church. Director Peter Mullan sets his script — based on actual testimony — in Dublin in 1964. Among the alleged sinners are Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff), a rape victim; Crispina (Eileen Walsh), an unwed mother; and Bernadette (the stunning Nora-Jane Noone), a flirt. Geraldine McEwan is fiercely magnificent as Sister Bridget, letting flickers of humanity shine through the cruelty. Mullan errs by making all the sisters dragon ladies. Still, the film gets to you; it's a powerhouse.
From The Archives Issue 449: June 6, 1985