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MOVIE REVIEW

Women of Faith

‘Faith’ is guided by the voices of nuns

“Women of Faith’’ lets New England nuns talk about their beliefs and their role in the Catholic Church. “Women of Faith’’ lets New England nuns talk about their beliefs and their role in the Catholic Church.
By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / July 2, 2009
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Rebecca M. Alvin’s documentary “Women of Faith’’ attempts to tell a history of New England nuns. It winds up listening to various nuns discuss their relationship to God, the Catholic Church, and their sexuality. The film is part of the Museum of Fine Arts’ local filmmaker series, and most of the 60-minute run time is spent with the women of the Poor Clare convent in Jamaica Plain and members of the Maryknoll Sisters, the first group of Catholic nuns to do missionary work abroad.

As useful and enlightening as it is, this feels very much like a work in progress. The women continue to ramble long after they’ve shared their most enlightening thoughts. There’s no structure guiding these conversations, so it’s never entirely clear what exactly the movie wants to argue.

What the nuns and former nuns have to say is sometimes surprising. “We are a sinful Church,’’ one woman says by way of acknowledging that the Church’s imperfections are her own, adding that she’s on a “God quest.’’ Many of the women challenge their subservient role within the Church’s hierarchy, especially their absence in the priesthood.

Alvin’s previous film, “Our Minds, Our Bodies,’’ was about feminist sex workers, and the new work’s most arresting idea is to look at the intersection between feminism and faith to see where the two overlap and diverge. There’s a strong movie amid all this material. It just needs a focused vision to bring it out.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to www.boston.com/movienation.

WOMEN OF FAITH

Directed by: Rebecca M. Alvin

At: The Museum of Fine Arts, through July 10

Running time: 60 minutes

Unrated

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