Review: Benedetta (France 2021)

Paul Verhoeven’s new nuns gone wild true story is a fascinating study in wrong-footing an audience. Just when you think you have the movie, and the titular character figured out, Verhoeven shifts the narrative and point of view. Sometimes a savior, sometimes a monster, Verhoeven’s Benedetta is magnetic, even for her enemies. And a reminder that religion and crazy go together like peanut butter and jelly. Benedetta never quite rises to the hysterical heights of The Devils (the obvious point of comparison), but I’m glad to see major filmmakers still going this far out on a limb.

Some random thoughts:

  1. Hunky Game of Thrones action hero Jesus is a pretty fun Jesus. 
  2. Fun to see Verhoeven back in grungy Flesh + Blood territory, though on a couple of occasions he slips into full Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “Bring out your dead!”
  3. The performances are uniformly excellent, especially Virginie Efira as Benedetta and Daphne Patakia as Bartolomea. But I kept being distracted by Efira’s odd resemblance to Kim Cattrall – am I the only one?
  4. Charlotte Rampling is aging like fine wine – she’s now managed to play spiteful elderly nuns in not one but two excellent movies this year.
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