TIFF 2017: ‘Novitiate’ Review

Margaret Qualley as Sister Cathleen in Novitiate

Mongrel Media | Sony Pictures Classics

In recent years, there have been a couple films about the Catholic Church. Spotlight made us angry about the scandals behind closed doors. Ida let us see the psyche of a young woman who was about to take her vows to become a nun. Margaret Betts’ latest film, Novitiate, balances both of these stories.

Cathleen (played by a transformative Margaret Qualley) enters a convent, convinced she’ll never be more in love with anyone except for God, but she struggles her sexuality and her need for physical comfort. Meanwhile, Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo) must learn to relinquish authority after the news of planned reforms from Vatican II.

The film doesn’t always wrap up some of its storylines with a nice, neat bow, but you’ll forgive Betts for this because she rounded up an A+ cast. Leo is an absolute powerhouse as the strict, and sometimes cruel, Reverend Mother. But Julianne Nicholson is the real scene-stealer, making the most out of her brief screen time.

Yes, Novitiate is a film about religion. But above all else, it’s a film about love and finding one’s self.

Rating: 7/10

Public Screenings: Sept 10 5:45 pm, Sept 12 4 pm

Novitiate opens in theatres in Canada in November

For additional TIFF 2017 coverage, click here.

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