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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Critic Reviews for Novitiate
Most films, especially mainstream ones, are about the forces that whirl around characters. "Novitiate" grapples with what's going on inside them.
In Leo, it presents a remarkable portrait of a complex woman struggling with forces beyond her control.
[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.
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.
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.
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