A Nun's Prison
When Margaret (Annie-Marie Duff) is raped by her cousin the shame of it leads her family to send her away to live at a convent. It is no different for Rose (Dorothy Duffy) who after giving birth to a child out of wedlock is not only forced to sign over the baby for adoption but sent to the same convent. For Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone) her beauty and appeal to boys causes her to be sent to that same convent because in some people's eyes she is a temptress. But life under the nuns at the convent is a case of daily sufferance and humiliation as they are treated inhumanely until these three girls can't take it anymore and seek to escape from their unholy prison.
No matter whether you are aware of relatively recent social history or not watching "The Magdalene Sisters" is an intentionally uncomfortable experience on many levels. We get the obvious level of the horrendous, inhumane treatment which these girls suffered at the hands of the nuns; we get to see how poorly parents treated their children not only by sending them away like this but also at times the physical abuse they suffered. And there is also the horrendous nature that some of this horrendous stuff was carried out in the name of religion. I could go on because there is a lot more in "The Magdalene Sisters" which makes for uncomfortable viewing from big scenes to even smaller moments of selfishness.
The thing about "The Magdalene Sisters" is not an entertaining movie, it isn't intended to be and whilst director Peter Mullan has crafted the movie as a series of escalating impacts it won't be to everyone's liking. To put simply "The Magdalene Sisters" doesn't feel like a realistic drama but a movie made to leave an impact on its audience to make them aware of all the different things which were going on in these laundry convents and as such it is effective as an impact piece.
What this all boils down to is that "The Magdalene Sisters" is not going to be for everyone as this isn't some easy to watch drama about a bygone time. Nope this is a movie which attempts to highlight everything which was going on in this sort of laundry convent and leave a lasting vile impression on you.