Based on the non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith C. Brown is Paul Verhoeven’s newest erotic, blasphemous, and extremely camp film, Benedetta. In 17th-century Italy, young Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira) has had her life given over to a convent by her father. When Benedetta grows older, she begins to see fantastical and lustful visions of her “husband” Jesus Christ and experiences the signs of stigmata, soon after initiating a sexual relationship with a fellow nun, Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia), who she initially took on as a companion.

Any film that involves religious themes is sure to get attention, but this intrigue is especially tempting, going into it knowing this is a Verhoeven film. From the moment it begins, you know you’re in for a hell of a ride. From a bird defecating in someone’s eye to a wooden statue of Virgin Mary being carved into a dildo, the satiric Benedetta is one of the most entertaining films premiering at Cannes, even if it’s messy and at times extremely violent. But it simply wouldn’t be as good as it is without the incredible performances from Efira, Patakia, and of course, Charlotte Rampling, who always awes whilst on screen.

It’s actually refreshing the way women are depicted in Benedetta. Their bodies are uncensored and while engaging in sexual acts, the two women are shown to actually receive pleasure, unlike a lot of films that cover women up and centre sex around a man’s needs.

Benedetta is shockingly hilarious in unexpected moments all while achieving the goal of subverting the power dynamics and the heinous nature that exists within the Catholic Church. And with all this being said, it is important to seek out the opinions from lesbian writers regarding the portrayal of sex in this film.



CAST: Charlotte Rampling, Virginie Efira, Daphne Patakia, Lambert Wilson, Hervé Pierre, Olivier Rabourdin

DIRECTOR: Paul Verhoeven

WRITERS: Paul Verhoeven, David Birke

SYNOPSIS: A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from religious and erotic visions, while also starting a love affair with a fellow nun.