195 user 158 critic

The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

R | | Drama | 29 August 2003 (USA)
1:20 | Trailer

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Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.


Peter Mullan


Peter Mullan
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 18 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Geraldine McEwan ... Sister Bridget
Anne-Marie Duff ... Margaret
Nora-Jane Noone ... Bernadette
Dorothy Duffy ... Rose / Patricia
Eileen Walsh ... Crispina
Mary Murray ... Una
Britta Smith Britta Smith ... Katy
Frances Healy Frances Healy ... Sister Jude
Eithne McGuinness Eithne McGuinness ... Sister Clementine
Phyllis MacMahon ... Sister Augusta (as Phyllis McMahon)
Rebecca Walsh Rebecca Walsh ... Josephine
Eamonn Owens ... Eamonn
Chris Patrick-Simpson ... Brendan (as Chris Simpson)
Sean Colgan Sean Colgan ... Seamus
Daniel Costello Daniel Costello ... Father Fitzroy


A thoroughly mind-provoking film about 3 young women who, under tragic circumstances, see themselves cast away to a Magdalene Asylum for young women in 1964. One of many like institutions, the asylums are run like prisons and young girls are forced to do workhouse laundry and hard labor. The asylum, one of many that existed in theocratic Catholic Ireland, is for supposedly 'fallen' women. Here, young girls are imprisoned indefinitely and endure agonizing punishments and a long, harsh working system which leaves them physically drained and mentally damaged. As the girls bond together, it soon becomes clear that the only way out of the Magdalene convent is to escape, but with twisted Sister Bridget running the wing, any chances seem limited... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The triumphant story of three women who found the courage to defy a century of injustice. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence/cruelty, nudity, sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



Ireland | UK


English | Latin

Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die unbarmherzigen Schwestern See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£88,315 (United Kingdom), 1 November 2002, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$84,553, 3 August 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,890,878, 23 November 2003

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,722,258, 6 November 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Former Magdalene Asylum inmate Mary-Jo McDonagh told director and writer Peter Mullan that the reality of the Magdalene Asylums was much worse than depicted in the film. See more »


When Margaret's brother shows up to take his sister home, he not only knows his way around the facility, but knows exactly which room everyone is in, despite having never set foot in the place. See more »


[first lines]
Margaret: Well, what is it you're wanting to show me? Come on, Kevin, what's the secret?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to ... Andy and Marco at Edit-Hire Post Production Services ... all at the Glasgow Film Theatre ... Lee at Lynx ... all the gardeners ... the people of Dumfries ... and all at VFG. See more »


Features The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) See more »


God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Traditional Christmas carol
Sung off-screen by an unidentified man (possibly Ford Kiernan) with chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

The Nazi's Took Lessons From The Sisters Of Charity
15 April 2004 | by httpmomSee all my reviews

Enough has been said about the plot and characters by now that I am only going to add a personal note...which I strongly feel I must. I had to wait for this movie to be released on DVD before I got to see it....having waited patiently since I first read it won awards at the Venice Film Festival.

I am so grateful that Peter Mullen took this project on and that it met with such controversy because that was exactly what was needed for the film to get recognized and viewed by as many people as possible. The more people who see the film the better! The wonderful advantage of having waited for the DVD release is that it came with the brilliant documentary, ‘Sex In A Cold Climate` which inspired the movie.

As a X-Roman Catholic and a survivor of what I refer to as my incarceration...an oppressive Catholic education/indoctrination by the Sisters Of Charity (1957-1958) and the Ursuline Sisters (1959-1969), both old orders of the Catholic Church originating in Europe. I can state with battle-scarred alacrity that behavior as depicted in this movie is not only factual but not nearly cruel enough to tell the true story. From my experience...the Nazi's must have taken lessons in depravity and wickedness from the Sisters Of Charity! These were old world religious orders with dogmas and superstitions that have not changed since Christ's time. The practitioners of this primitive cult like barbarism were mostly ignorant of anything resembling reason or logic not to mention...science. The comparisons to the Taliban is not all that far fetched. Of course there was one or two nuns who had an occasional bout of compassion, but they were not only a minority, they were also downcast within the system. I also realize that not all Catholic orders are of the same cloth as the strict Roman Catholic variety, but I was born into the Irish Catholic variety...one of the worst.

It took me years and a loving cheerful husband to undo the deep melancholia I felt from having grown up with this kind of repression. Now, as a middle aged adult my depression has amalgamated into a outspoken and healthy anger at a religious institution and church that has been allowed for millenniums to abuse it's power. The psychological methods employed by The Catholic establishment is so devoid of compassion and full of hate that had it still existed today in America it would be considered illegal. The only reason these zealot fanatics got away with their brutal treatment of innocent children for so long is because the people they tormented were brainwashed with eternity in hell for even thinking of questioning such God given authority. I spit on that authority!

This movie is not an exaggeration! And it's not restricted to the religious orders in Ireland. If anything it didn't go far enough in depicting the true story. Not enough nefariousness has been said of an institution that routinely turned it's eyes on child molestation and the persecution of women perpetrated by it's leaders. I am so glad that all these Catholic Church and School survivors are suing the church and therefore bringing the atrocities to light. And I applaud Peter Mullen for making such a forceful case against inhumanity in the name of organized religion of any flavor. Christian, Catholic, Islam, Jew...they're all the same...it's all about control and power...and too often it's an aberration of it's original intent.

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