By: Jessica Goddard
This detailed and thoroughly layered period drama intertwines two stories against the backdrop of the Catholic Church’s controversial reforms in the 1960s, known as Vatican II.
Novitiate focuses mainly on Cathleen (Margaret Qualley), a teenager from an areligious household who falls in love with religion and enters a strict and highly structured convent with every intention of becoming a nun. Then, there is the convent’s intimidatingly severe Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo), whose relationship with the institution grows increasingly turbulent as the revisions of Vatican II become unavoidable and imminent.
Once Cathleen enters the convent grounds, we’re there with her for the rest of the movie, experiencing the suffocating setting and the maddening seclusion with much less stoicism than Cathleen. Novitiate handles its subject matter maturely and somewhat ambiguously, which makes the film all the more fascinating. Ultimately, what makes this film memorable is the powerful performances of its committed cast.
Novitiate screens at TIFF on:
Tuesday, September 12 at 4:00 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Runtime: 118 minutes
For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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