Sydney Sweeney takes on the church in ‘Immaculate’

Sydney Sweeney takes on the church in ‘Immaculate’

/ 12:10 AM March 23, 2024

Sweeney in “Immaculate

Sweeney in “Immaculate” —NEON

After portraying problematic teens in “Euphoria” and “White Lotus,” Sydney Sweeney tries on a different mantle, or nun’s habit as the case may be. In her new movie, “Immaculate,” she plays Cecilia, an earnest postulant determined to take her nun’s vows after her church in the United States closes down.

She travels to Italy upon the invitation of a priest (Alvaro Morte) who had heard about her predicament and is brought to a convent away from the city, past verdant, rolling hills that remind one of another postulant—Maria (Julie Andrews) in the 1965 movie musical “The Sound of Music.” It’s an image that will resurface later on in the movie directed by Michael Mohan, although it won’t be as benign.


One gets the impression that the team behind “Immaculate,” which includes screenwriter Andrew Lobel and Sweeney, who is one of the producers, wanted to poke fun at the mysticism and religiosity of the Catholic Church. When Cecilia is led through the convent grounds to her room by a petulant nun, it’s like every school-based movie where the “cliques” are pointed out for the newbie.


“It’s best to just go along with this one,” the nun tells Cecilia, gesturing to an elderly nun. “But be careful, she bites.”

Sydney Sweeney at the “Immaculate” premiere in Los Angeles

Sydney Sweeney at the “Immaculate” premiere in Los Angeles —SWEENEY/ INSTAGRAM


The room she’s led to is bright and sun-filled but notice the green curtains with the leaf pattern? They’re identical to the drapes that Maria turned into play suits for her wards in “The Sound of Music.” There won’t be any time for Cecilia to sew because she is soon terrorized by shadowy figures and later discovers she is pregnant.

The priest, the cardinal and the hapless Mother Superior declare it a miracle after a perfunctory check whether Cecilia has ever “had congress” with a man. She is then decked out in robes of blue and white, a tiara placed on her now wavy hair while the congregation of nuns sings to her.

The decision of the filmmakers not to include any subtitles in the movie despite much of the dialogue being in Italian was a conscious one. It adds to the confusion Cecilia experiences throughout and is shared by the viewers. In the end, it hardly matters because the viewers feel for Cecilia and her feeling of being trapped.

‘Visited’ by an angel


Fortunately, there are some moments of levity sprinkled throughout. The chicken feather scene reminds one of the 1985 movie “Agnes of God” with Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly) mesmerized by floating feathers in the dovecote. Recall that Agnes was made to believe that she was “visited” by an angel who impregnated her.

When Cecilia’s tormentors eventually get their comeuppance, the religious instruments that they used to torture her reappear.

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One thing that can be said about Sweeney is that she succeeds in getting her audience to empathize with her. When she screams her gut-wrenching screams, it’s truly cathartic.


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