A movie described as an erotic lesbian nun period drama? From the director of Basic Instinct, Robocop, and Starship Troopers? A movie described by those who saw it at Cannes as being pure Verhoeven? Benedetta is that movie, and if that doesn’t get you intrigued, then you must be clinically dead. Or maybe simply outraged that they are pushing a gender-swapped Satan’s Alley.
Here at Last Movie Outpost, we know what will happen if you type “Lesbian Nuns” into a search engine, so allow us to fill you in.
It is Verhoeven’s first movie since he snagged an Oscar nomination for Elle. Set in 17th century Tuscany it follows a young novitiate who begins an affair with another nun. Cue sexuality, religion, lust, love, and betrayal.
Verhoeven developed several projects after Elle, including one about Jesus based on his own book Jesus of Nazareth. There was also one set in the second world war dealing with the French Resistance, and a third one scripted by Jean-Claude Carrière about a medieval story set in a monastery.
This third one was chosen by Verhoeven and was Blessed Virgin. This marked the producer and the director’s second collaboration after Elle. On this choice, Verhoeven said:
“Blessed Virgin must be deeply infused with a sense of the sacred. I have been interested in the sacred ever since I was a child, both generally and more specifically in music, painting.”
Principal photography on the retitled production, Benedetta, began on 19 July 2018 in Montepulciano, Italy. Other locations included Val d’Orcia and Bevagna, also in Italy, as well as the Silvacane Abbey and Le Thoronet Abbey, in France.
Production was followed by a campaign of secrecy and no one, unless working on the film, was allowed on the set. Producer Saïd Ben Saïd admitted that the story was a subject to controversy and feared reactions from fundamentalist Catholic associations.
The movie stars Virginie Efira Daphne Patakia, Lambert Wilson, Olivier Rabourdin, Clotilde Courau, Herve Pierre, and Charlotte Rampling. The reviews out of Cannes were very strong.
The film will launch in U.S. cinemas on December 3rd.