BREAKING HABITS gets 6/10 In the weeds

Directed by Robert Ryan

Starring Sister Kate


How does a nun start growing cannabis? Well, Sister Kate and her Sisters of the Valley have far from the traditional view of organised religion, despite their nun habits. This documentary follows the life of the founder of the small, controversial sisterhood and looks at how she got into the business of growing medical marijuana. From the boardrooms of corporate America, to homelessness, to drug field shoot outs, Breaking Habits tells her extraordinary tale at the edges of the law.

The strength of Breaking Habits lies in the draw of it’s central character, and the fascinating breadth of subject. Sister Kate’s life and work touches upon so many issues, that it is breathtaking in scope. The breakdown of the family, female homelessness, the drug industry (both legal and illegal), organised religion, addiction, the use of drugs in spirituality, the health effects of cannabis, the state of rural America, and drug enforcement efforts – all is touched upon here. It’s a staggering collection of issues, all interrelated to Sister Kate’s journey and her work. That alone makes Breaking Habits worth a look, as it is a character study, the likes of which we rarely get a glimpse at.

The issue is that the broadness of scope also leaves a lot that is only superficially covered. We are never given a real sense of Kate’s character, or a deep delve into the issues. This documentary tells her tale in extensively a chronological order and leaves much unanswered. Part of that is Kate herself, as the viewer is never really given a naked insight into her genuine motivation for dressing her cannabis growing industry in the regiment of religion. Part of that is just how enigmatic she is as a character, so that the audience is never really able to tell if her motivations are genuinely spiritual, commercially motivated, or both. Yet part of that is the scattershot approach this piece takes, covering so many issues that it never breaks through to the core of the matter.

What we are left with is muddled, but still an amazing story, presented in a rather traditional and slightly lacklustre fashion. As such Breaking Habits is worth a glance, just for the curious persona it is focused on, and the controversial topic at its heart. However, the unfocused approach of its director leaves it incapable of giving you any clarity.


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