Overlong, but also really nuanced in ways I didn’t expect. As oppressive as this environment is, the beauty of ritual and tradition is articulated in a way that makes this more complex than you’d expect it to be. Wish we got more Dianna Agron. She steals the movie.
I appreciated that it unironically did not put down GOD but allowed the audience to take what it wanted from seeing a cloistered environment devestated by change soiled by a patriarchal system. Julianne Nicholson is really great although Melissa Leo has the showier role.
The film offers a revealing look into the lives of nuns (and those hoping to become nuns), and Leo delivers yet another transforming performance. Yet, despite its richness of detail, it ultimately doesn't create a fully realized story. Besides many padding scenes, I don't think Betts really understands her characters; and if she does, she presents them from an emotional distance, almost looking down on them.
It takes a bit to find its footing due to some unnecessary and less than stellar flashbacks, but the rest of the film is GREAT. It asks so many interesting questions about identity, sexuality, certainty, and love. It's filled with great performances and is beautifully done. One of my favorites of the year.
There is an old saying that says 90% of directing is casting. The truth is that Margaret Betts did a phenomenal job casting her film but not much else. Expect an Oscar nomination for Melissa Leo. Besides her cast, when it's the director's time to shine or when her A-listers are off screen, she fails miserably as we can see in the laughably clumsy opening childhood sequence and her visionless camera movement.