1964. Cathleen Harris, 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 her divorced mother's wishes, 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, 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 ...Written by
Novitiate (2017) was written and directed by Margaret Betts. Margaret Qualley portrays Sister Cathleen, who decides to become a nun because of her love for Jesus. She was not raised as a Catholic. In fact, her mother (Julianne Nicholson) considers the decision as a horribly bad move.
As the movie progresses, I started to believe that her mother was right. Young women who want to love and serve Jesus are systematically brutalized and humiliated by the Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo). In fact, the Reverend Mother appears consumed by her desire not to allow the young women to think. She also makes it difficult for them to bond with each other. She demands total and absolute obedience from all the women--postulants, novitiates, and nuns.
Then, Vatican II ends, and the Catholic church wants to modernize and change. Whether this is good news or bad news for the nuns is an open question in the context of this movie.
You'll have to see the movie to learn what happens to Sister Cathleen and the other novitiates. We saw this film at Rochester's excellent Little Theatre, but it will work on the small screen. As I write this review, the movie has a anemic 6.7 IMDb rating. I think it's better than that.
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