What kind of nun is she?
Sister Kate explains it with a punchy motto: "I'm a self-declared, self-empowered, anarchist-activist nun."
While antagonists call her name, invented religious order and clothing of choice "a costume," the woman at the heart of Breaking Habits doesn't care. The documentary follows the scrappy cannabis entrepreneur and her small band of cohorts who formed Sisters of the Valley in Merced County, California, in the state's impoverished Central Valley, just before no-holds-barred legalization became the law there. Wearing the habit was a joke at first, then an outward symbol of what she says has become her sacred mission.
In a fitting release in Santa Fe the week of the 4/20 cannabis holiday, filmmaker Robert Ryan focuses on the trajectory that took Kate from CEO to homeless to CBD star. It's no Sister Act for weed, however. The rough edges are open for inspection—including shootouts, suicide discussions, familial treachery and more.
We're not gonna lie, some of what happens here is cheesy: "Bless these hands that touch the oil. Bless these hands for they must toil," in a prayer offered before a cooking session; smudge sticks liberally burned at every turn; and music/production montages that seem better placed on weeknight TV.
Kate appears undeterred by a county sheriff named Vern Warnke who's the picture of a Western hard-ass with soundbites such as, "Don't think for a minute that habit is going to slow me down in prosecution."
Ryan's crews follow deputies who hack away at the county's grow sites and carry as much as 2 tons a week to the landfill—plus filmmakers show the love and care, and risk and consequence of Kate's crops and production of oils and other products she sends in the mail or hand-delivers to locals. All the while, she's fighting to get sanctioned for the business.
Spoiler alert: Business is booming.
+Ingenuity, resilience and sticking it to the man
-Somewhat cliche and coo-coo
Directed by Robert Ryan
Jean Cocteau Cinema, TV-14, 87 min.