California has gone to pot and Sister Kate is front and centre of the crusade in Breaking Habits. She calls herself a nun, but she created her own ministry after her husband blindsided her. Let’s just say life hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for this former corporate high achiever.
As this doco written and directed by Rob Ryan tells us, Kate was left homeless and penniless with three kids to bring up. The answer was weed, but with that came inherent problems involving greed, guns and the law. But this smooth talker with a strong sense of self belief was never going to roll over without a fight.
Her trials are exposed in this documentary, which uses plenty of home video. It’s entertaining, if a little repetitive and confusing. I suspect bits of the narrative were left out; and the views of one Kate’s sons are showcased more than those of her daughter. He is the one who has strayed from the straight and narrow and is a staunch defender of his mother. The filmmakers tried to interview Kate’s ex-husband, but he declined. So, we have gaps in understanding and context. Still, that happens in many other docos. We do get to hear from a local sheriff and a pastor who have decidedly different views on marijuana than Sister Kate and her followers.
I was left thinking how impactful fate has been on Kate. Where she lived played a huge part in the path she chose. That led to a life’s calling that she subsequently – and rather conveniently – took to with religious fervour. My cynical self can’t help but ask whether this is all genuine. Is she really just cleverly exploiting loopholes in the law?
You be the judge. Sister Kate: saint or sinner … or perhaps a bit of both?
Director: Rob Ryan
Release Date: 18 April 2019
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.