After five years away, moviegoers will see the return of veteran director Paul Verhoeven with his new erotic-thriller, Benedetta. A trailer has been released, and the thriller will premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The drama stars Virginie Efira in the title role of Bendetta, a nun that begins an affair with another nun. The picture is produced by Saïd Ben Saïd and will feature composer Anne Dudley. You can check out the first look footage ahead of the movie’s debut later this year.
In the world of cinema, the ever changing landscape of actors, directors and genres, breathes new life into old ideas. What was once considered to be the norm can turn on a dime into a dynamic adventure for audiences. Of course, the re-emergence of older directors can also bring about a renewed sense of storytelling, like that of Martin Scorsase or David Fincher. Now, Paul Verhoeven reemeges with his Nun thriller Bendetta.
Verhoeven’s success skyrocketed in 1987 with the release of Robocop and only continued to grow from there. With hits like Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Starship Troopers to follow, Verhoeven was a sheer force in film. It wouldn’t be until the 2000 release of Hollow Man that Verhoeven’s run would begin to slow. The director’s last film would be Academy Award nominated Elle in 2016, until now.
As far as the other cast attached to the project, Bendetta also features Lambert Wilson (of The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions fame) and Charlotte Rampling (who will also star in the upcoming picture, Dune). Efira also starred in Verhoeven’s last film, Elle, as the character Rebecca.
The film is based off of the 1986 Judith C. Brown novel I mmodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun and was adapted to the screen by Verhoeven and screenwriter David Burke. As well as Virginie Efira, Burke had also returned from Verehoeven’s Elle. According to Saïd Ben Saïd’s Twitter, on March 25th of 2018, Judith C. Brown had commented on Verhoeven’s and Burke’s adaptation.
“Paul Verhoeven and David Birke have written an imaginative and spellbinding script that explores the intersection of religion, sexuality, and human ambition in an age of plague and faith.”
The official synopsis of Benedetta is as follows, “In the late 15th century, with plague ravaging the land, Benedetta Carlini joins the convent in Pescia, Tuscany, as a novice. Capable from an early age of performing miracles, Benedetta’s impact on life in the community is immediate and momentous.”
The movie is not without controversy though as Gerard Soeteman, who has worked with Verhoeven on numerous films, stepped backed from the project. Soeteman felt that Verhoeven focused too much on the more sexual aspects of Benedetta. He had this to say about the erotic nature of the film.
“For me, it was not about the sexual relations of this genius woman, but about the political constellation in which she moved. If you omit that element and just think, ‘Hmmm, lesbian, how nice,’ then I’ll serve you, I don’t find that acceptable. I am so against what Paul wants to make of it.”
Benedetta is set to premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, the festival runs from July 7th to 16th and will award the winning film with the Palme d’Or.