Director Paul Verhoeven at 83 is still pungently pushing the boundaries; “Benedetta” (1590-1661) a lesbian nun, who garnished well-known notoriety in the 17th century for her lifestyle, and cosmic visions; exhibited here in lurid detail, the elimination of imagination, a flaw, worth noting, but still scores high grades on the prurient, sensational vector. Actor Virginie Efira tackles the role of “Benedetta” with verve, might and positive acuity while blamelessly experimenting with “Bartolomea” (carnality gifted Daphene Patakia); Charlotte Rampling, embodies magnitude in her depiction of the overseer, warden, chief l’abbesse of the nunnery; she spies on the blasphemous couple, reports them to “Nuncio” (stupendous, seasoned Lambert Wilson) and the trials commence.
Categorically controversial, deemed sacrilegious: religious icons used as sexual tools, Jesus portrayed as a man, demanding gratification, challenging traditional Catholic dogma and convictions. But at the core was the established practice of convents, monasteries recruiting children into their corps; Benedetta was nine years old when she entered (sold into) the nunnery; boys at equivalent ages, enrolled in monasteries; celibacy, abstinence, a profound directive; puberty ensues and ignites the issues facing these young, unsophisticated adolescents, raging hormones, their only choice, a homophobic one.
Verhoeven’s iconoclasm reveals shunned, unspoken realities, affecting more than religious devotees but the populace in general. For that he should be hailed.
THREE & ½ STARS!!!