Paul Verhoeven is my favorite film director, a master at being artful, daring, and fun all at the same time. He has a distinctive edge with memorable characters and a witty streak that hides social commentary, and Benedetta is no exception. Following Sister Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira) as she starts experiencing strange miracles while forging a relationship with fellow sister Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia), the film is engrossing with passion and sexual tension. Their chemistry bolsters the eroticism between each other, but beyond the scintillating sexual exploits, the film explores earnest spiritual themes. Verhoeven subverts some familiar Christ tropes to carve a unique identity for Benedetta. Rather than just being a power fantasy, though Bennedeta has her witty badass moments, Verhoeven displays an air of sincerity with his spiritual exploration of love. His critiques of religion’s relationship with capitalism and bureaucracy feel honest and direct, especially with how the Catholic Church’s relationship with the public contrasts with Benedetta’s. All these ideas are held together by the excellent lead performances of Virginie Efira and Daphne Patakia. Benedetta is a wild ride with plenty of nuances to decode among many rewatches, just as any good Verhoeven film should be.
You can read a full review by Knockturnal contributor Liam Haber here