[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Magdaelene_Sisters_7786.jpg]]

''The Magdalene Sisters'' is an Irish drama film directed by Peter Mullen. It was inspired by the documentary ''Sex In A Cold Climate'' and delves into one of the darker parts of Ireland's history - the Magdalene laundries. The laundries were originally established in Victorian times as a place to shelter women deemed "fallen" by society and they eventually evolved into places where any woman who was deemed corrupt by the Church was sent there for the rest of her life. The women were put to work in the laundries and kept under the supervision of nuns who punished them cruelly. The only way to leave the laundry was for two men over 18 to sign the woman out.

This film follows four women in one of the laundries in the 1960s. We have Margaret, a woman raped by her cousin at a wedding and sent there because she is no longer a virgin. There's Rose who has just had a baby out of wedlock, being forced to put him up for adoption before being sent away. Bernadette is a teenage orphan sent to the laundry because she was thought to be too flirtatious with some of the local boys and, unlike the other girls, she is still a virgin. There's Crispina, sent to the laundry years ago for having a baby out of wedlock and is now quite unstable. The entire laundry is run by the malevolent Sister Bridget.

!!!This film provides examples of:

* TheAlcatraz: Subverted. The laundry is easily accessible and on the edge of a town. The girls are only kept in their room with a chair in front of the door (though they do eventually fit a lock on it). There's even a back gate, but the girls are kept in there through StockholmSyndrome and the knowledge that the world wouldn't accept them if they did escape.
* AllMenArePerverts: Sister Bridget believes this, claiming that Bernadette was sent to the laundry to avoid tempting men because of her looks.
* AmuletOfDependency: Crispina's St Christopher medal. She believes it helps her communicate with her son.
* BatteringRam: Rose and Bernadette improvise one with a bed to escape their dormitory room.
* BeautifulAllAlong: [[spoiler: When Rose and Bernadette escape from the laundry, Bernadette's cousin gives them both a bit of a makeover.]] The difference in Rose is startling.
* BeautyIsBad: Discussed by Bernadette and two little girls. Bernadette theorises that since the Virgin Mary is beautiful then it's not a sin. She then says it's a sin to be vain.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Sister Bridget. To the world she's a kindly elderly lady while to the girls she's the devil.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: Bernadette, Rose and Margaret all get to leave the laundry but are traumatised by their experiences, though they do lead full lives. However the rest of the girls and hundreds more endure life in the laundry and Crispina [[FromBadToWorse dies of anorexia in the asylum she is sent to]]. It's then revealed that the last laundry closed in 1996.]]
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: Blonde Rose, dark brown Bernadette, reddish-brown Margaret and black haired Crispina. There's also a red haired girl whose name is never mentioned.
* BreakTheCutie: Rose. Crispina is already broken at this point.
** Implied to have happened to Katy as well. She's basically been there so long that she has long since given up hope of ever getting out and willfully rats out Bernadette when she tries to escape the first time.
* BreakTheHaughty: Sister Bridget tries to do this to Bernadette.
* ByTheHair: Our introduction to Una is her father dragging her back into the dormitory by her hair.
* CallBack: Their first night in the laundry, Bernadette and Rose talk in the bathroom. When they are in the same place again [[spoiler: they plot to escape]].
* ChekhovsGun: The key to the safe.
* ChekhovsGunman: Bernadette mentions she has a cousin who's a hairdresser. [[spoiler: She and Rose go to the cousin for help after escaping]].
** Similarly Margaret's brother is in one scene at the start but then reappears [[spoiler: to sign Margaret out of the laundry]].
* ChurchMilitant: Sadly, TruthInTelevision.
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience: The girls in the laundry all wear the same drab green uniform, the nuns all wear black and the girls wear blue whenever they are out in the town.
* CrapsackWorld: The laundry and really the entire country when you consider that there were dozens more.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: Played with. Una's family disown her so she ends up taking vows to become a nun herself.
* DrivenToSuicide: Crispina after she loses her St Christopher medal. She sleeps on wet sheets to make herself sick and tries to hang herself in the dormitory. Her WhereAreTheyNow text states that she later dies of anorexia.
* ExpositoryHairstyleChange: Bernadette gets her hair cut off by sister Bridget and then a montage is shown, by the end of it Bernadette's hair has grown back. After [[spoiler: Crispina is taken away]] it is even longer. Una's hair also grows back.
* FanDisservice: The nuns make all the girls strip off their clothes and perform exercises while they judge who has the biggest breasts, hairiest area and other unpleasant things. Also the priest stripping naked in the middle of a sermon.
* {{Hypocrite}}: Several of the nuns. Sister Bridget, in particular, preaches against earthly pleasures while pocketing most of the laundry's profits.
* [[IHaveNoSon I Have No Daughter]]: Una's father tells her this before he abandons her in the laundry.
* IronicNickname: Crispina means "girl with the curly hair" and Crispina's hair isn't curly.
** The nuns gave her the name Crispina; it's not her real name. And they're not talking about the hair on her head...
* HumiliationConga: An example that turns sour halfway through. The priest gets poison oak put in his clothes by Margaret. The itching kicks in during a public sermon and he strips off his clothes and runs off into town. [[spoiler:It then turns out Crispina has the same rashes on her thighs, revealing she was molested.]]
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Bernadette. She is capable of sympathy and compassion, but her spiteful actions towards Crispina and her KickTheDog moment with Katy shows she has a very harsh side.
* KarmaHoudini: Margaret's cousin rapes her and she ends up being punished. Granted we never find out what happened to him but it still fits this trope. Sister Bridget also likely stayed at the laundry and kept running it the same way for years.
* KickTheDog: Sister Bridget loves to do this. She laughs cruelly at Una as she tries to pick up her cut off hair. Also she hits Rose when she asks if she can send a birthday card to her son.
* KissingCousins: Margaret and Kevin at the start, though Margaret is extremely squicked out when it happens.
* KnightTemplar: Sister Bridget.
* MadeASlave
* MoneyDearBoy: Sister Bridget lets [[spoiler: Bernadette and Rose escape]] when Rose gives her the key to the safe with all the laundry's money in it.
* MoodWhiplash: The humourous scene of the Parish priest stripping off and running away naked because Margaret put poison oak in his clothes takes a sharp u-turn when [[spoiler: Crispina reveals she has the same rashes around her thighs, implying the priest molested her]].
* OhCrap: Margaret when she sees her sister telling her father that she's just been raped. Bernadette when the nuns discover her trying to escape.
* {{Oireland}}: Averted with a cast of Irish actors though the woman Katy slips into this, attacking her "o"s and "u"s rather fiercely.
* OneSteveLimit: Sister Bridget enforces this. There's already a Rose in the laundry so Sister Bridget forces everyone to call Rose Patricia (her middle name). Crispina's real name is Harriett so this may apply to her as well.
* ParentalAbandonment: And how. Rose's mother won't even speak to her when she's had her baby, Margaret's father sends her away and Una's father drags her back into the laundry by her hair when she escapes, saying she has no family left.
* PetTheDog: At Christmas all the girls in the laundry are allowed to watch a film (though most of them are bored by it) and they also each get an orange laid on their bed.
* RapeAsDrama: Margaret's cousin rapes her in the opening scene. Given the [[ValuesDissonance time period]], ''Margaret is blamed for this'' and is sent to the laundry.
* ReallyGetsAround: Bernadette is implied to be this, flirting with a few local boys, but it turns out she's still a virgin.
* ShakingHerHairLoose: Bernadette [[spoiler: at the end when she sees two nuns (not ones from the laundry) looking at her on the street]].
* SheCleansUpNicely: [[spoiler: There's a huge difference when we see Rose and Bernadette all cleaned up at the end]].
* SinisterMinister: The Parish priest turns out to be molesting Crispina.
* SoBeautifulItsACurse
* StepfordSmiler: Sister Bridget is a type C while all the girls in the laundry are type As, most visible when they walk through town smiling to onlookers.
* TechnologyMarchesOn: When the girls are first brought to the laundry, all the washing is done by hand. Over the course of the movie, washing machines are purchased (A technology that helped a lot in finally doing in these hellholes by its rise as a common household appliance destroying the consumer market for commercial laundries). Also, the nuns keep the profits in biscuit tins early on and Sister Bridget is exasperated when she can't find the key to the safe that is later added to her office.
* TheDogBitesBack: When the nuns were abusing the poor girls they obviously didn't bank on [[spoiler: Bernadette chasing after them screaming while brandishing a candlestick]].
* TraumaticHaircut: This is the punishment for trying to escape the laundry. Happens to Una and later Bernadette.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Brendan is last seen driving away in the back of the delivery van, with no explanation of what happened to him.
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: Which includes the ultimate final outrage of these self-righteous gulags; the final ones were only closed in ''1996''.

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