The Magdalene Sisters

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Magdalene asylums were established as a place where fallen women could go to literally wash away their sins laboring unpaid in a laundry business that benefited the Catholic Church. In 1960s Ireland, three young woman incarcerated together under vastly differing circumstances join forces to rebel against the abusive nuns who imprison them, "The Magdalene Sisters."

Laura's Review: A-

Actor/director Peter Mullan's ("My Name Is Joe") expose on the Catholic Magdalene Asylums of Ireland is a horrific look at sanctioned abuse. The Catholic Church has been under a microscope in recent years, particularly in regards to the U.S. child abuse scandal that mushroomed from initial reports against priests in the Boston Archdiocese. What is most horrific about Mullan's look at the Magdalene asylums is that the Church had so strong a grip on societies relatively late into the twentieth century that parents would be complicit in the barbaric treatment of their own children, all in the name of God. The first scene is wordless, its meaning conveyed by a roving camera. Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff) tells a female relative she was raped by cousin Kevin, a scene we've just witnessed, as wedding festivities carry on about them. Glances are exchanged in a round robin that ends with the town priest. Early the next morning, an uncomprehending Margaret is handed off by a furious father (Mullan) and driven away in a black car. Comely Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone) flirts with some boys from behind the fence of an orphanage schoolyard. Unfortunately, the pretty girl's behavior has been observed and found scandalous enough to condemn her to slave labor. Patricia (Dorothy Duffy) wails as the parish priest tricks her into giving up her newborn for adoption as her parents erect steely fronts. The trio is greeted by Sister Bridget (Geraldine McEwan, "Love's Labour's Lost"), a steely-eyed spirit-breaker who will only accept utter subjugation. They discover they cannot converse while working, while eating or once lights have been turned out, nor speak to outside visitors. It is not easy making acquaintances under these conditions, but the girls befriend Crispina (Eileen Walsh), a sweet, simple-minded girl who lives to see her little boy when her sister manages to position him at a distance beyond the asylum's gates. Bernadette forms a love/hate relationship with a dotty old asylum assistant, a woman who horrifies her as a portrait of her own future. The girls are routinely paraded naked on bath day and verbally abused by the comments of a perverse nun. Crispina's torments are discovered to be worse and a scene where the girls mount a small scale revenge is both funny and a scathing indictment of abuse of the truly helpless. Bernadette, whose sexuality won't be denied, attempts to make a pact with a delivery boy to run away, but it is only in sisterhood that these girls find their freedom. Mullan, who reportedly compared the Catholic Church with the Taliban at his Venice Film Festival press conference, has fashioned an unrelenting, dramatically compelling film. These heartbreaking tales are relieved by a feistiness of human spirit, although the film does not shy away from depicting cruelty from within the ranks of those being abused. Geraldine McEwan delivers an Oscar caliber supporting performance as Sister Bridget, a twisted villainous zealot with the occasional glimmer of near regret. An image of the nun reflected in the blood-rimmed eye of Bernadette, cut while having her hair forcibly shorn, embodies the film.

Robin's Review: B-

I did a bit of research into the mermaid myth and found that, though they may lure sailors to their death, do not generally feed on humans, but is a main characteristic of the heroine’s of “The Lure.” Golden and Silver are two sides of the same coin – Silver wants to live and fall in love and live among the humans while Golden sees them as a tasty morsel. If you are expecting Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, you are at the wrong movie. “The Lure” is a strange amalgamation of alt-fable, horror flick and sometimes impromptu musical as our two mermaids make new lives in the human world. It is certainly an original view of the denizens of the sea that goes in a very different direction than Ron Howard’s “Splash (1984).” It is aimed at the horror fans that prefer originality in their favorite genre and, boy, do they get it.