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9 Misunderstood Movie Magdalenes

Here's your annual Holy Week movie-watching list!  
by Anton D. Umali | Mar 28, 2013
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Mary Magdalene is considered a saint; she stayed by Jesus’ side as He was crucified to his death for all to bear witness. But despite her good deeds and mourning for the Son of God, she was portrayed in some texts as a woman with loose morals, a prostitute, a sinner.

Time and time again, we’ve seen pop culture place women either in the role of Madonna or whore, polarizing the concept of the virginal vessel or “the one your mother warned you about.” But as you can very well see, the tale of the “hooker with a heart of gold” is a parable as old as the good book. Saint and sinner can be one and the same, and even the seediest of occupations can be occupied by a well-natured individual.

It is with this concept of Mary Magdalene that we’ve come up with a Holy Week movie-viewing list for those of you opting for a staycation. Instead of hitting the beach, basking in the sun, and burning your hard-earned bread on some much-needed R&R, pop in a movie that stars women on the wrong side of the fence, who do what they got to do in the name of survival.

These working girls know how to love, but be warned, they can break your heart…but it doesn’t mean they want to.


As played by Elisabeth Shue

Has a heart of gold because: When she learns that failed writer Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) travels to the City of Sin to drink himself to death, she forms a special bond with the suicidal alcoholic, allowing him to spend time with her...and to drink tequila off her breasts. As they quickly burn through his wallet and tons of bottles of whiskey, they slowly become intoxicated with each other. Sera hopes Ben will change, but after one final lay, Ben drinks his last drink, dying naked next to his newfound lover. 

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As played by Mira Sorvino

Has a heart of gold because: Also known in the business as Judy Cum, the annoying porn star with a crass sense of humor and high-pitched voice won Sorvino her Best Actress Oscar. She’s also kind of annoyingly cute and caring. Not only does she get neurotic sportswriter Lenny (Woody Allen) to come out of his sexual shell and mend his marriage, she’s also a tour-de-force in films like The Enchanted Pussy and Beaver Patrol. With a rap sheet like that, it’s easy to see why men who come her way fall into the spell of the Greek God of Love. 


As played by Natalie Portman

Has a heart of gold because: She’s young and broken, a renegade soul in search of the perfect tinker for her broken heart. But don’t be fooled, she’ll easily seduce you with her air of mystery. In one of the movie’s most telling scenes, Alice (aka Jane Jones) becomes a stripper, toying with the damaged Larry (Clive Owen) as she withholds both emotion and information from the now-needy male. Because in her words, “Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off. But it’s better if you do.” Agree. 

NEXT: Pretty Woman, Sin City, Gangs of New York

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