Novitiate (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

Novitiate (2017)

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Critic Consensus: Led by a gripping performance from Melissa Leo, Novitiate grapples uncompromisingly -- and ultimately compellingly -- with questions of faith and feminism.

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Spanning over a decade from the early 1950s through to the mid-60s, NOVITIATE is about a young girl's first initiation with love, in this case with God. Raised by a non-religious, single mother in rural Tennessee, a scholarship to Catholic school soon finds Cathleen drawn into the mystery and romanticism of a life devoted to the worship and servitude of God. With the dawn of the Vatican II era, radical changes in the Church are threatening the course of nuns' lives. As she progresses from the postulant to the novitiate stage of training, she finds her faith repeatedly confronted and challenged by the harsh, often inhumane realities of being a servant of God. Cathleen finds herself struggling with issues of faith, sexuality, and recent changes in life of the Church.

Cast

Margaret Qualley
as Sister Cathleen
Melissa Leo
as Reverend Mother
Julianne Nicholson
as Nora Harris
Dianna Agron
as Sister Mary Grace
Denis O'Hare
as Archbishop McCarthy
Morgan Saylor
as Sister Evelyn

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Critic Reviews for Novitiate

All Critics (79) | Top Critics (33)

"Novitiate" is challenging, uncomfortable, violent, simple in its message about transformative mind control imposed on youth, superbly acted and technically flawless.

November 16, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Most films, especially mainstream ones, are about the forces that whirl around characters. "Novitiate" grapples with what's going on inside them.

November 16, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

In Leo, it presents a remarkable portrait of a complex woman struggling with forces beyond her control.

November 15, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

[Reverend Mother Leo's] countenance alternates between a stony smile and a twisted snarl, except for the moments when the changes wrought by Vatican II threaten to loosen her iron grip over her young charges. Then she simply goes to pieces.

November 10, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

There are times when Novitiate tests the viewer's endurance - it's a beautifully shot movie, but it runs more than two hours, and lingering compositions of silent nuns and novitiates start to feel unsupported by the story.

November 9, 2017 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

The film raises interesting questions, but the answers remain elusive, and whether that makes for a compelling cinematic experience is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

November 9, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

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