Action / Drama

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Margaret Qualley Photo
Margaret Qualley as Sister Cathleen
Melissa Leo Photo
Melissa Leo as Reverend Mother
Julianne Nicholson Photo
Julianne Nicholson as Nora Harris
Dianna Agron Photo
Dianna Agron as Sister Mary Grace
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.11 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 3 min
P/S 0 / 1
2.06 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 3 min
P/S 3 / 4

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TheAnimalMother4 / 10

Interesting, But Somewhat Shallow And Disrespectful In The End

I thought this was an interesting and sad story. However this is definitely a failed project to say the least.

The film ends up being centered around how the 1960's reforms of the Catholic Church, basically took away many of the older extreme views of the past church, and introduced much more leniency in Catholic nunnery. All of a sudden nuns were not held in a higher regard than that of the average Catholic. Their 'Brides of Christ' designation and special place in the church was entirely abolished. Thus of course taking away the designation in an instant what many nuns had given their entire lives for, to be known and recognized as a bride of Christ by the church. While it is sad for these ladies, or perhaps I should call them 'Sisters', the film really has no real depth to it other than this point. Nor did the film feel authentic to its time or to its characters. The film adds that these reforms are why Catholic nunnery has since almost entirely disappeared.

It is quite clear from watching the film that the writer does not believe in God. This too hinders the film, and to where it eventually leads, as openness in this regard would have made for a much more interesting and effective story, and it quite frankly would have been much more respectful to its subjects. The main young character we follow in the film is really not developed at all, and her supposed interest in God and religion in general is not honestly looked at. For her it just seems like a somewhat rebellious phase, rather than something she's actually truly interested in. Nobody in the entire film actually feels like they have a real interest in God. Since it takes place in a Nunnery, this seems odd to say the least. The film basically comes across in the end as, well it's better that girls are not becoming nuns anymore, and that they are free to love physically as this actually gives more to them than God can. I'm not kidding either, I know it sounds like a pretty ridiculous point, but that is basically the note on which the film ends.

The story is simple, mostly superficial, but somewhat interesting. However the script and the direction needed serious help. The film fails to find any real depth besides the obvious fact that these older nuns were dealt a crushing blow by the church, and basically had a big part of their life's work taken away from them, and that it takes hard work and sacrifice to become a nun. It often shows stereotypical, and occasional fairly realistic struggles with faith among the young nuns, but nothing really meaningful or insightful is ever flushed out. It often feels superficial and too rehearsed, mainly because of it's lack of depth.

The direction, writing and editing are also seriously to be questioned as there are so many unrealistic to the time period things in the film. The strangest being, why is the lead character nude under her habit, and secondly why are we even shown this in the first place? Scenes like this made absolutely no sense at all; And going even further, it is very obvious that this young woman of at least 18, who has been locked in a convent for around two years now, has a shaved pubic region in the 1960's! Just silliness!! It kinda makes you wonder if this film was produced by another Harvey Weinstein kind of sleezeball. There was entirely no point to this nude scene other than to make the film seem less authentic, or more sexy; And I don't see how the film being more sexy fits into the story. Did the minds behind this project all of a sudden decide to give a homage moment to the old 1970's nun exploitation films or something? We are shown nuns getting dressed far too often in the film, without reason. Why? No nudity is shown really until near the end, but all in all it just seemed so odd, so out of place.

If the subject matter interests you, it may be worth a watch. Although this review alone basically gives you the entire story, because there really is no depth to it beyond this at all. The film is greatly flawed, and offers no interesting insights or depth, other than a little of the obvious effect the reforms have on the long time nuns. I will give it a 4 for the acting and because at least I learned a little about the Vatican II reforms. Even if it is a shallow, fairly ignorant and somewhat underdeveloped vision of its subject matter. At least I did learn one new thing and the acting was good, it wasn't a total loss. 4/10.

Reviewed by gradyharp10 / 10

The period or state of being a novice, especially in a religious order: Probation

Writer and director Maggie Betts makes an auspicious debut with this excellent film - beautifully written, bringing a significant moment in Catholic history into view, and blends a dramatic story about the conflicts and rewards of life inside a convent to our attention. Her cast is excellent, the cinematography by Kat Westergaard is splendid, and the impressive musical score by Christopher Stark (with exceptional integration of moments from the Faure Requiem and music by Arvo Pärt),and perhaps most important is Betts' uncompromising, ultimately compelling questions of faith and feminism among the members of the convent and the young girls entering the mystery.

The opening moments of the film offer statements about the impact of the 1960s Vatican II as instigated by Pope John XXIII on the life in the convents around the world. 1964. Cathleen Harris (Margaret Qualley),in her late teens, has resided at the Convent of the Beloved Rose in her home state in the American south for close to two years, first as a postulant for six months, before taking her first vows to become a novice. Unlike the other postulants and novices, Sister Cathleen was raised in a household without religion, let alone Catholicism. As such, her decision to become a nun, which went against abusive father (Chris Zylka) and her divorced mother's wishes (the mother is portrayed in a stunning manner by Julianne Nicholson),may be more secure in her mind than her colleagues for which this life course may be more bred within them. The convent is led by the Mother Abbess, Reverend Mother Marie Saint Clare (a brilliant Melissa Leo),whose entire life is this convent off of where she not stepped foot in forty years. Reverend Mother believes she is the voice of God within the walls of the convent, and thus does not tolerate any of the sisters questioning her authority. She also believes that the Catholicism which she has known all her life is perfect. When she receives an edict regarding the Second Vatican Council - more commonly referred to as Vatican II - which, opened in 1962 as a process to make the Catholic church more open to modern ideals, she refuses to implement any of the changes, let alone discuss the edict with any of the sisters, especially with the likes of Sister Mary Grace (Dianna Agron),the Mistress of Postulants and Novices who has more contemporary views of the church. Sister Cathleen's drive to become a nun is set against this backdrop, her process which is not as easy as it appears to the others, and whether she makes it to nun is affected by the Reverend Mother's strict methods and refusal to modernize. Her challenge to her beliefs and needs is brought into focus by the arrival of the sensuous Sister Emanuel (Nora Harris).

The ritualism, the meaning of bells, the confession of faults, and the interaction of the young girls waiting to become novices and postulates is all painted subtly and with style. This is an exceptionally fine film that deserves a large audience.

Reviewed by lee_eisenberg6 / 10

Why would anyone want to go into a cloistered life?

Popular culture's depictions of nuns have ranged from the lighthearted (The Flying Nun) to the serious (Doubt) to the grim (The Devils). Maggie Betts's "Novitiate" falls in the middle. Basically, it makes nunhood look like torture. And as is always the case in depictions of nuns, mother superior makes people feel as if they're walking on eggshells.

Like many of these movies, it deals with the protagonist's questioning of her own faith (and in this case Vatican II influences her decision). Seeing the regimens to which mother superior subjects the postulants, it's no wonder you see almost no women becoming nuns anymore.

It's an OK movie - better than any of Terrence Malick's recent work - but it could've been a clearer one.

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