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Novitiate (2017)

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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.


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 ... 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 »


Official Sites:

Official Site



Release Date:

20 January 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Genç Rahibeler See more »

Filming Locations:

Nashville, Tennessee, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$22,724, 29 October 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$580,346, 11 February 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Dianna Agron and Denis O'Hare both have worked with Ryan Murphy. See more »


At the beginning of the movie, a train is seen that consists of double stack container cars. The movie is set in the early 1960's but double stack containers were not introduced until 1984. 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 »


Spiegel Im Spiegel
Performed by Arvo Pärt
See more »

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User Reviews

A lot like a female Catholicism version of 'WHIPLASH'!
20 December 2017 | by HellmantSee all my reviews

'NOVITATE': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

The critically acclaimed religious themed drama, about a nun in training (in the 1960s) who starts to question her faith. It was written and directed by debut feature filmmaker Margaret Betts, and it stars Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor, Liana Liberato, Julianne Nicholson and Denis O'Hare. The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics, and it's also garnered prestigious awards attention as well. I found it to be really well made and involving.

At the age of seven, Cathleen Harris (Qualley) was introduced to Catholicism by her agnostic mother (Nicholson), for educational purposes. Cathleen feels drawn to the religion, at the great disappointment of her mother, and at the age of 17 she decides to join a convent as a postulate. She's trained by the extremist Reverend Mother Marie St. Clair (Leo). Reverend Mother tortures the young women she trains, in an obsessive (outdated) belief that it will bring them closer to God, and she rejects modern reforms ordered by the Second Vatican Council. Her methods really put Cathleen, and her faith, to the ultimate test, while Cathleen also must struggle with natural temptations of desire.

The film is a lot like a female Catholicism version of 'WHIPLASH' to me, that's what the relationship between Cathleen and Reverend Mother feels like. It's very intense, hard to watch, and at times pretty emotional. Leo is also fantastic in the role, and I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see her get an Oscar nomination for it. The film is also a great examination of what faith and commitment to faith meant for these women at that time. It's definitely an interesting, and emotionally involving, movie to watch.

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