Spanning the early 1950s through the mid-60s (and shot on location in and around Nashville), this coming-of-age story is about a young girl's first love. In this case, her first love is God. Raised by a deeply caring, non-religious mother, Cathleen is drawn to the heady mysticism of the lives of Catholic nuns and their undying romantic devotion to their chosen husband, Jesus Christ. She enrolls in a training program with The Sisters of Blessed Rose, a cloistered convent. As Cathleen progresses from the postulant to the novitiate levels of her tutelage, her faith is challenged by the harsh, often inhumane realities of being a nun, just as Pope John XXIII’s announcement of the Second Vatican Council threatens to alter the course of nuns’ lives forever.
Writer/director Maggie Betts is a filmmaker to watch. Propelled by exceptional performances from Margaret Qualley as Cathleen, Julianne Nicholson as her mother, and Melissa Leo as the Reverend Mother, Betts has crafted an uncanny journey of a young woman in a rarefied world on the brink of extinction. (From the Sundance Film Festival Program Guide)
“Revelatory...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.” —Kate Erbland, Indiewire “Stylish, impressively performed and intellectually ambitious...Mesmerizes as it probes a uniquely female-dominated milieu where passions—both religious, sexual and a combination of the two—run hot under those starched, lily-white coifs and black habits.” —Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
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