Novitiate (2017)

R   |    |  Drama

Novitiate (2017) Poster

Set in the early 1960s and during the era of Vatican II, a young woman in training to become a nun struggles with issues of faith, the changing church and sexuality.

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  • Novitiate (2017)
  • Novitiate (2017)
  • Novitiate (2017)
  • Margaret Qualley in Novitiate (2017)
  • Margaret Qualley in Novitiate (2017)
  • Rebecca Dayan and Margaret Qualley in Novitiate (2017)

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Maggie Betts


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20 December 2017 | Hellmant
| A lot like a female Catholicism version of 'WHIPLASH'!
'NOVITATE': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

The critically acclaimed religious themed drama, about a nun in training (in the 1960s) who starts to question her faith. It was written and directed by debut feature filmmaker Margaret Betts, and it stars Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor, Liana Liberato, Julianne Nicholson and Denis O'Hare. The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics, and it's also garnered prestigious awards attention as well. I found it to be really well made and involving.

At the age of seven, Cathleen Harris (Qualley) was introduced to Catholicism by her agnostic mother (Nicholson), for educational purposes. Cathleen feels drawn to the religion, at the great disappointment of her mother, and at the age of 17 she decides to join a convent as a postulate. She's trained by the extremist Reverend Mother Marie St. Clair (Leo). Reverend Mother tortures the young women she trains, in an obsessive (outdated) belief that it will bring them closer to God, and she rejects modern reforms ordered by the Second Vatican Council. Her methods really put Cathleen, and her faith, to the ultimate test, while Cathleen also must struggle with natural temptations of desire.

The film is a lot like a female Catholicism version of 'WHIPLASH' to me, that's what the relationship between Cathleen and Reverend Mother feels like. It's very intense, hard to watch, and at times pretty emotional. Leo is also fantastic in the role, and I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see her get an Oscar nomination for it. The film is also a great examination of what faith and commitment to faith meant for these women at that time. It's definitely an interesting, and emotionally involving, movie to watch.

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