It is based on a true story, won last year's Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, and was snatched up by Miramax for distribution. And now that it is opening in theatres across the country, mainstream critics are raving that The Magdalene Sisters is one of the year's best films.

But not everyone is so pleased. Director Peter Mullan's film about the abuses suffered by young women at the hands of some harsh and unforgiving Irish Catholics has the Catholic League and many other religious press media critics calling it exaggerated, unfair, and cruel in its own right.

According to The Washington Post, the Walt Disney Company's board of directors received an appeal from the president of the Catholic League last September. William Donohue demanded that the company break off ties with Miramax. He continues to insist that the movie is driven by an anti-Catholic agenda. But a Miramax spokesman showed that the company would not budge. "The film portrays something that actually happened," he said.

Movies that vilify people of faith usually get mixed reactions from the religious media. Frequently there are some who take offense, preferring to have believers shown in a flattering light. Others recognize that religious folk are as capable of sin as everyone else, and find honesty to be the best policy. In the case of The Magdalene Sisters, almost every critic agrees that "the Maggies," as they were called, were indeed mistreated by the church. But they also agree that the movie unnecessarily exaggerates the situation, rigging the movie to provoke audiences toward outrage instead of productive, balanced, and redemptive understanding.

Movieguide's critic says the film "is a painful expression of a twisted system. That ...

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