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Novitiate (2017)

R | | Drama | 20 January 2017 (USA)
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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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3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
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Sister Mary Grace
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Sister Emily
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Nora Harris
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Sister Evelyn
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Archbishop McCarthy
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Sister Sissy
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Sister Candace
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Chuck Harris
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Sister Margaret
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Sister Emanuel
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Sister Charlotte
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Father Luca
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Storyline

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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Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

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20 January 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Genç Rahibeler  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$22,724, 29 October 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$573,305, 18 January 2018
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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Premiered at 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. See more »

Connections

References The Nun's Story (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

Learn how tough the Church can be on its young women.
24 November 2017 | by See all my reviews

Novitiate is not Audrey Hepburn's The Nun's Story, nor is it The Sound of Music, The Singing Nun, or countless other romances about happy nuns. It's closer to Doubt. This "expose" is merciless showing the almost Marines-like indoctrination of young girls, first to be postulants, then novices, then the real deal.

Although the film doesn't have drill sergeants, it has a super-committed Mother Superior (Melissa Leo). She will punish swiftly with, for instance, the girls kneeling to walk while saying Hail Mary's or disciplining themselves with knotted ropes. But the real torture is the interior questioning of the young women about even the existence of God.

Nevertheless they are moving to become "brides of Christ," which when they dress in bridal gowns for the actual marriage borders on satire, hokum, or downright pathos. As more than one postulant avers, "Where is He?" daily, the girls are giving themselves to God while not feeling the divine presence.

Perhaps the biggest problem is the emergence in the early '60's of Vatican II, that progressive body of prelates that liberalized the Church and demoted the nuns. So much for that disrespect as 90,000 pure souls took the last train outta there.

The central postulant, Cathleen (Margaret Qualley), has a tough time with her vocation, much less her attraction to another hopeful. The complications of sexual yearnings in young women is a nicely figurative way of showing the challenges of taking 17 year old girls from a normal life, which usually involves young men.

Cathleen's mother, Julianne Nicholson (Nora Harris), serves as the vox populi questioning the sanity of the process as she is losing her daughter to these unknown forces of religion. For Catholics, Novitiate is a confirmation; for non-Catholics it's a gloss on the complexity of Catholic faith.


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