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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

‘The Novitiate’ navigates tough world of Brides of Christ under demanding Reverend Mother

Jack Petro
Jack Petro

When young Kathleen Harris is awarded a scholarship to a prestigious Catholic High School, she feels that this is her “calling” to devote her life to God.  Kathleen (Margaret Quailey) tells her mother Nora (Julianne Nicholson) of her belief and her wish to be a nun. Nora reluctantly gives her a cautious blessing.

Kathleen joins the current class of novitiates.  Life inside the cloister is strident and demanding. The Reverend Mother Marie St. Clair (Melissa Leo) runs the school for nuns with an iron fist. Instruction lasts six months where rules of silence and discipline are sacrosanct.  The Rev. Mother borders on the edge of sadism in her punishments.

The novitiates have all the feeling and desires of young women, some of which are in conflict with their present teachings.  Each takes a different path to becoming Brides of Christ.

Melissa Leo stars in “The Noviitiate.”

When rules outlined in Vatican II are delivered to the convent, Mother St. Clair’s world comes crashing down.  The order of sisterhood is immediately revoked and women are to have the same stature as men except for officiating priests.

While acting is good, “The Novitiate” is a textbook of history and not much more.  Without a compelling, cogent plot, I cannot recommend this movie which is currently showing at the Rialto Theater in The Villages.

Jack Petro reviews movies for Villages-News.com

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