Starring Margaret Qualley, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor, and Melissa Leo, Novitiate had its World Premiere in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
Spanning the early 1950s through the mid-’60s, this coming-of-age story is about a young girl’s first love. In this case, her first love is God. Raised by a deeply caring, non-religious mother, Cathleen is drawn to the heady mysticism of the lives of Catholic nuns and their undying romantic devotion to their chosen husband, Jesus Christ. She enrolls in a training program with The Sisters of Blessed Rose, a cloistered convent. As Cathleen progresses from the postulant to the novitiate levels of her tutelage, her faith is challenged by the harsh, often inhumane realities of being a nun, just as Pope John XXIII’s announcement of the Second Vatican Council threatens to alter the course of nuns’ lives forever.
Writer/director Maggie Betts is a filmmaker to watch. Propelled by exceptional performances from Margaret Qualley as Cathleen, Julianne Nicholson as her mother, and Melissa Leo as the Reverend Mother, Betts has crafted an uncanny journey of a young woman in a rarefied world on the brink of extinction.