You gotta love nun movies, all furtive whispers and crisp white fabrics. It looks like Black NarcissusViridiana, and Agnes of God will get a proper successor in the new drama Novitiate, now in trailer form for the first time after its well-regarded Sundance opening. And like the nun cinema that came before it, Margaret Betts’ new film centers on the shifting tensions of life in the church — the friction between faith and doubt (ooh, and that’s another good nun movie, Doubt), between tradition and modernization, between self-determination and surrender to a higher power. Plus, Melissa Leo just wears the heck out of a habit.

She’s the draconian head sister at the convent where young Cathleen (Margaret Qualley, star of The Leftovers as well as Spike Jonze’s unbelievable Kenzo ad) enlists during the early 1960s. As Cathleen comes to terms with her newly adopted rigorous beliefs, she must reconcile them with the stirrings of adolescent desire she cannot hope to shut out. But Leo’s fearsome Reverend Mother has troubles of her own, getting trapped in the past as the Papacy undergoes upheavals to doctrine spurred by the social change beyond the church’s walls.

Denis O’Hare supports as the local priest leading the charge to change, while Glee alum Dianna Agron and Homeland’s Morgan Saylor appear as a fellow young nuns. Novitiate comes to theaters on October 27, just the sort of small-scale project rooted in an intimate human quality that the end-of-year season privileges. Sony Picture Classics is most likely thumbing their rosaries in hope of an Oscar nomination or two, too. Bow your head, but keep an eye out for it.

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