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Novitiate (2017)

R | | Drama | 20 January 2017 (USA)
1:54 | Trailer
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.


Maggie Betts


Maggie Betts
5 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Melissa Leo ... Reverend Mother
Lisa Stewart ... Sister Genevieve (as Lisa Stewart Seals)
Alyssa Brindley Alyssa Brindley ... Sister Kate
Chelsea Lopez ... Sister Charlotte
Liana Liberato ... Sister Emily
Eline Powell ... Sister Candace
Margaret Qualley ... Sister Cathleen
Morgan Saylor ... Sister Evelyn
Rebecca Dayan ... Sister Emanuel
Hannah Renèe Jackson Hannah Renèe Jackson ... Sister Anne
Marco St. John ... Father Luca
Julianne Nicholson ... Nora Harris
Eliza Stella Mason ... Cathleen Age 7 (as Eliza Mason)
Bill Shick ... Local Priest
Danny Vinson ... Rob - Church Usher


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


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


When Chuck comes home in the middle of dinner, Nora is holding the cutlery over her plate in a side shot. In the next shot, her arms are resting on the back of her chair and then she picks up her fork and eats. See more »


[singing Exodus 4:15 repetitively]
Nuns: You shall speak to him / And put the words in his mouth / And I will be with your mouth / And with his mouth / And will teach you both what to do.
See more »


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


Pie Jesu
Faure Requiem
Written by Gabriel Fauré
See more »

User Reviews

Not the Flying Nun
26 June 2018 | by gbkmmaurstadSee all my reviews

Several story lines, but the main story is that of Cathleen Harris (Margaret Qualley) growing up in rural Tennessee during the 1950's who decides at the age of 17 she wants to become a nun. She grows up in a single parent home, her parents divorced due her father's drinking and abusive behavior. Cathleen's mother Nora (Julianne Nicholson) works in a factory and makes no excuses for the men she shares her bed with.

On a whim Nora takes Cathleen to the local Catholic church, her mother is not religious in the least, but thinks Cathleen should at least have some exposure to church. Cathleen is immediately in awe of the church and it's teachings. When the opportunity to attend a Catholic school comes up, her mother is hesitant, but agrees to let her attend when she is told there are full scholarships available. Cathleen is a quiet, shy girl and makes few friends in the years that she attends. She immerses herself in her studies and her faith. When Cathleen announces to her mother she is entering the convent to become a nun her mother is aghast and begins to think Cathleen has lost her mind. Cathleen listens to her mother's rants, does not say a word in response, and then simply walks away.

Cathleen and nineteen others enter into the convent for a variety of reasons, but none as single minded as Cathleen. Just as she's entering the Sisters of the Beloved Rose convent, Vatican II (1962-1965) is underway which will forever change the Catholic church. Mother Superior (Melissa Lea) has spent forty years at the convent and believes there is no reason for the church to consider its relationship with society or other religions and continues to ignore the Vatican's new direction. She has spent her entire life within the walls of the convent and acknowledges she does not, nor does she want an identity outside of that.

Cathleen undergoes emotional, mental, physical, psychological, sexual, and spiritual self examination as do all who have entered the convent. In the end, only five of the twenty will become "brides of Christ" and become nuns. Her mother can only observe from the outside her daughter's journey and hopes to reunite with her one day soon.

Great movie for people who don't know much about the Catholic church and the changes they've made in attempt to be "more modern." One of the lesser know facts is over 90,000 nuns left their vocations during Vatican II due to those changes, one of which was nuns were no longer required to wear their habits. Word of caution: Not for younger viewers due to sex scenes.

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Release Date:

20 January 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Novitiate See more »

Filming Locations:

Nashville, Tennessee, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$22,724, 29 October 2017

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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