If audience engagement is an important measure of art than the Magdalene Sisters succeeds to a degree rarely found in cinema. Tension, shock and outrage communicated through story and acting meld with what appears to be a cultural context of growing disgust with the sins of some preachers and leaders within the Catholic Church. Great art is that combination of creativity and illusion which forces reflection.
Inspired by a documentary, Sex in a Cold Climate, the film distills some of the worst institutional and personal abuses across the spectrum of social policy, arrogance of power, and self satisfaction. On one end, a society which permits and promotes the institutionalization of the vulnerable rather than the vulture. It’s policies are carried out by institutions led by those without any accountability to the people they portend to serve. On the other end, there are the individuals who use any advantage of profession, intellect or garb to coerce submission.
Sadly, the litany of documented abuses seems to grow. When found to be a part of religious institutions and those who would be called religious, it is even more repulsive. The motivation for telling such a story is interesting, but background. The accuracy of the story is less important than its underlying truths. To the degree that we are able to speak and to act, each one of us is responsible for what happens to the weakest among us. And sometimes even our best intentions today will face justifiable reprimand in future judgement.
See this film. See the world it represents through the eyes of these talented actors. Look inside. Look around.