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Novitiate

Rated 14 Accompaniment

(Coarse Language, Disturbing Content, Sexual Content) 123 minutes

Dir: Margaret Betts, US
Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron

“What makes a young woman choose to be a nun? In Margaret Betts’ revelatory Novitiate, which traces the journey of the starry-eyed Cathleen, it begins in parochial school when a nun explains that the Catholic faith is different from all others because it’s built on the twin pillars of love and sacrifice. Combine that with the sense of peace that she gains from the church, and boom: This is a lovesick teenage girl, and Cathleen’s beloved is no less than God. Largely set in 1964 and 1965, just as the Second Vatican Council (aka Vatican II) was beginning to roll out its new decrees for the way the church should be run, Novitiate follows Cathleen (a breakout Margaret Qualley) first as a postulate, then as the titular novitiate, which is regarded as a grueling training period in which young nuns ‘learn to be perfect.’ Her mother is horrified by Cathleen’s choice, scoffing at her profession and often questioning what she did to make her child want to become a nun, of all things. But Cathleen is steadfast in her faith, and her choice to join a strict convent led by a vicious Reverend Mother seems like a natural one for her. Still, what looks like a clear path is anything but, and Novitiate gracefully charts Cathleen’s journey and the many emotions that course through it. Both introspective and entertaining, Betts never forgets that her young nuns are still teenage girls, and Novitiate rings as true as any other film about coming of age. The film is packed with such rich storytelling that it never lags.” - Kate Erbland, IndieWire