A thoroughly mind provoking film about 3 young women whom, under socially unacceptable circumstances see themselves cast away to a Magdalene Asylum for young women in 1964. One of many such institutions all over Ireland at the time; run by the rule of God and a will of iron, the prison like regime saw young girls forced to do workhouse laundry and hard labour, never to understand their crime and never to leave, unless they decide to ‘take orders’ and become one of the nuns.
The asylum is for supposedly ‘fallen’ women, one of the three had found herself pregnant, the child taken for adoption and she ostracised by her family; a second had been seen behaving tentatively flirtatiously towards the boys hanging over the railings at the orphanage, branded as potential ‘trouble’ she was whisked off; the third a young innocent who was raped by a village boy at a wedding, he said she asked, she said she didn’t, as he was believed she was denounced as a lying whore and taken at first light.
The young girls are imprisoned indefinitely and endure agonising punishments and a long, harsh working system which leaves them physically drained and mentally damaged. Every ounce of human identity is removed, they are uniformed day and night, drilled and marched around, no idle chit chat permitted, every opportunity to humiliate taken advantage of.
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.
To say I enjoyed this might sound sadistic, but the enjoyment came from the quality of acting, the script, the scening, the whole package delivered its subject extremely well. It was informative without being documentative.
I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of this system, nor the doctorin of religion imposed, it was of its time and now thankfully no more, but I do wonder if we had such schemes today more women would be ‘in’ than ‘out’. It is a sad piece of social history.