Fri 22 Apr 2022 - Thu 28 Apr 2022
£8* Standard | £5* Student / Under 25s
See Showtimes below
Dir. Paul Verhoeven
2022 | 131 mins | France, Belgium, Netherlands
French with English subtitles
Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Daphne Patakia
Seasoned provocateur Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Black Book, Elle) returns with this gleefully transgressive drama, inspired by a nun in Renaissance Italy whose lesbian relationship and erotic visions of Jesus scandalised her church.
Tuscany, 17th century: As the threat of the Black Death hangs over Europe, a devout young novice, Benedetta Carlini (Elena Plonka), enters a convent. 18 years later, Benedetta (now played by Virginie Efira) begins having blasphemous visions of a naked Jesus that shock her fellow sisters – save perhaps cynical, calculating Abbess Felicita (Charlotte Rampling) – but seize the imagination of the plague-terrified locals. Meanwhile, Benedetta meets with another test of faith; this time the ungovernable desires brought forth by a fiery novitiate (Daphne Patakia) fleeing her violent father.
Drawn from Judith C. Brown’s 1986 book Immodest Acts, a pioneering 1986 study of Benedetta’s gay sexuality and mythology, Benedetta is a lurid, simmering and explicit romp that depicts religious hypocrisy, moral ambiguity and the possibilities of female emancipation in a male-dominated world while questioning – albeit lightly, and through Verhoeven’s unabashed male gaze – whether bodily pleasures really are bad for the soul.
★★★★★ – “A searing exploration of faith… Up there with the best of Verhoeven’s long career” BBC CULTURE