Peter Mullan is a man of strong opinions and serious politics. And so it is no surprise that the story of the Magdalene girls, imprisoned in convents sometimes for the rest of their lives with no recourse or chance of appeal, would appeal to his sense of outrage and craving for social justice. When I spoke with him on July 16, 2003, though, I also discovered a man with a wicked sense of humor as well as a provocative intellect. Whether discussing the state of independent filmmaking today or finding a surprising link between the Inquisition and the KGB, he was never less than completely engaging and endlessly fascinating.
The film is a raw and searing portrayal of the sort of physical and emotional abuse meted out to so-called fallen women by the Catholic Church in Ireland until remarkably recent times. Fallen in this context included being raped and flirting with boys. The film co-stars EileenWalsh, Anne-Marie Duff, Dorothy Duffy, and Nora Jane Noone. Mullan directed from his own script.