Breaking Habits

A higher calling.

Cheated by her stealing, polygamist husband of 17 years, once high-flying corporate executive Christine Meeusen flees penniless with her three young children. She finds her calling in a most unexpected place: as the founder of a medicinal-marijuana empire called Sisters of the Valley. Her mission is to provide her products to those in need while fighting the interests of the country sheriff and deadly black market thieves.

Trailers

Directed by

Documentary

87mins

Rating: M Drug use & offensive language

USA

FilmInk (Australia)

press

All of this could have made a fun ninety minutes, but somehow the film doesn't hang together that well.

Sydney Morning Herald

press

This is where the film falls down. It's not enough for Ryan just to show us the weirdness. He needed to stay longer, to answer some of the questions he raises.

Los Angeles Times

press

It's a stirring, unusually inspiring tale.

Hollywood Reporter

press

The story is a potentially interesting one, but it's told here in such scattershot, disjointed fashion that one can barely follow it.

Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)

press

This potentially engrossing and timely story is, like so many of its participants, mostly wasted.

The Guardian

press

A little more nuance and historical depth would have been welcome, but this will be serviceable entertainment when it gets to streaming, as long as viewers have a supply on hand.

Educational yet intriguing look at the effect of cannabis regulations

The synopsis of this documentary simply states: a former corporate executive fleeing a bad marriage becomes a cannabis farmer, forms a company called Sisters of the Valley and takes on the persona of a nun, Sister Kate. Directed by Rob Ryan, Breaking Habits delves into the marijuana business of America.

As cannabis is quite a polarising topic, sharing knowledge is important. Often, differences in opinion can be put down to different levels of knowledge. With cannabis on the cusp of being legalised in many places around the world (New Zealand has its own binding referendum on personal cannabis use lined up for 2020), ensuring that everyone has the facts before voting is critical for achieving the best outcome.

Unlike many documentaries these days, Breaking Habits does go quite in-depth into the topic, explaining the difference between the two components of cannabis; THC (the psychoactive component) and CBD (the component used to treat many common health issues, including anxiety and depression, as well as pain and symptom relief). Going as far as getting a doctor to explain the different chemical responses between THC and CBD in the body (the big take-away of this being that strains of cannabis can be grown and products made, that only have medical benefits, and don't get you "high").

While Breaking Habits primarily revolves around the role of weed in the community and growing cannabis, the true story is about Christine a.k.a. Sister Kate; a woman spurned twice by her family, who is forced into the cannabis game through necessity but finds peace through it. Breaking Habits is all about her transformation into the leader of the Sisters of the Valley, and her fight for legitimisation from the county.

While it focuses a lot on Sister Kate's perspective, the documentary is not overly one-sided, allowing a multitude of stakeholders to have their say; whether it be pastors, police, or defence attorneys. Depending on what side of the debate you fall on, you find yourself agreeing with certain people, disagreeing with others, but more importantly you gain an understanding of why they think a certain way.

With some great musical choices and top-notch editing, Breaking Habits flows incredibly well, jumping from one interview to another seamlessly, and separating each chapter with some black screen as the audience waits in anticipation for the result of a decision that needs to be made. It's purposefully light-hearted, approachable, and educational, creating an albeit long, but engaging flick.