Tracing my roots back to the Irish diaspora of the mid-19th century, I mused, as I watched this film, on what a strange world we came from -- where nuns pledge to an unknown Christ that they will not have sex for their entire lives.
There is much to admire in nuns for their efficiency and selflessness (I had two aunts who took up the habit, and I received the base of a good education from nuns in an elementary school). But there is in this film something of the atmosphere of joylessness and excessive secrecy in this nunnery-cum-clinic for wayward girls that is not only very familiar to me but at the same time contrasts with a certain exuberance that also exists in the Irish psyche.
Judi Dench, with remarkable feats of memory in her lines, and Steve Coogan, with a name not unlike mine, turn in beautifully nuanced performances. Bravo!