One of the movies that quickly set audiences alight at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Maggie Betts’ feature film debut, NOVITIATE. Sadly, it was also one of the few movies at Sundance that I somehow missed completely.
The buzz I heard about the faith-based coming-of-age film was not only due to the potentially controversial subject matter and Betts’ writing, but also for the performances by her cast, which includes previous Oscar winner Melissa Leo, and Margaret Qualley from HBO’s The Leftover in what many may consider to be a breakout role.
Set during the 1950s and 60s, Qualley plays Cathleen, a teenage girl raised in Tennessee by a non-religious mother (Julianne Nicholson) but who decides to dedicate her life to the worship of God after receiving a scholarship to a Catholic school. The advent of the Vatican II era Church begins to change how nuns are taught to worship God, and Cathleen finds herself struggling with the changes, as well as with the Mother Superior (Leo).
The movie also stars Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor and Liana Liberato.
Sony Pictures Classics picked the movie up at Sundance and recently set a release date of October 27.
First, they’ll be bringing it to the Toronto International Film Festival, where they’ll also likely bring some of the cast for the now legendary Saturday night press dinner they have every year. It’s one of the film’s early stops on its inevitable Oscar campaign following Telluride, another favorite Sony Classics launching ground.
You can get some idea how amazing Qualley and Leo are in the new trailer just released by the studio to get people ready for what’s likely to be a concentrated assault on the early fall festival circuit.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor