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France, Netherlands · 2021
2h 11m
Director Paul Verhoeven
Starring Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Daphne Patakia, Lambert Wilson
Genre Drama, History, Romance

As the sinister threat of the Plague looms over Europe, Benedetta Carlini is brought into a convent. Eighteen long years later, a test of faith awaits Benedetta in the shape of bruised, abused, and earthly Bartolomea: a young woman fleeing her violent father. Is there an escape from sin when the flesh is the enemy?

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What are people saying?

Marina Dalarossa Profile picture for Marina Dalarossa

Verhoeven brings his powers of titillation and spectacle to a 15th-century convent and leaves the audience with unanswered, thought-provoking questions at the end of it all. Charlotte Rampling and Virginie Efira give stand-out performances that anchor the more extreme parts of the storyline with moments of subtlety.

What are critics saying?


TheWrap by Ben Croll

You can’t call a film as lurid and alive as Benedetta a closing statement, but there is something valedictory about the erotic religious drama, which finds time to explore questions of voyeurism, sadism, masochism, systems of power, perversion, repression, rebellion, storytelling, divinity, irony and belief. Oh, and sex — plenty and plenty of nun-on-nun sex.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

Despite a handful of headline-worthy moments and a generally blasphemous — or perhaps just humanistic? — attitude toward the dogmas of the Catholic Church, Benedetta can’t help but feel like one of Verhoeven’s tamer efforts.


The Playlist by Jessica Kiang

If Benedetta is a joke that Verhoeven is in on, and that is designed to play to those in on it too, we can at least be thankful that it’s a good joke – not that there’s anyone up there to be thankful to.


The Hollywood Reporter by Jordan Mintzer

We may never know if Benedetta was sincere about her visions in the end, just as it’s impossible to judge how sincere Verhoeven is when he’s indulging in the erotic visions that have made him famous. The beauty of Benedetta is that it never provides a straightforward answer to all of our questions, making it mostly a matter of faith.


Screen Daily by Lee Marshall

It’s the tone that’s off here, as it is throughout a film which seems to wink at what it perhaps wants us to see as irony – its soft porn tropes like bondage and flagellation, its over-saturated sci-fi view of a comet’s passing, its horror-influenced vision of the plague – while keeping both eyes firmly open.


Slant Magazine by Pat Brown

Throughout Benedetta, Paul Verhoeven builds up a heady, campy mix of religious imagery, corporeal abjectness, and masochism.


Variety by Peter Debruge

With its haters-be-damned approach to all things carnal, Benedetta is intended to arouse, thereby satisfying the most basic definition of pornography, even if Verhoeven (who claims a certain scholarly interest in the subject as well) does surround the titillating bits with illuminating insights into Renaissance religious life.


The Telegraph by Tim Robey

As a statement, Benedetta won’t win any awards for coherence, but there’s just Too Much Verhoeven going on here for sensation hunters ever to feel short-changed.

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