The much-anticipated trailer for Benedetta is 1 minute and 50 seconds of undiluted lust and drama.
Dutch director Paul Verhoeven has clearly not strayed far from his trademark eroticism with his gripping new French film Benedetta. Set to premiere at the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival, taking place 6 – 17 July 2021, the film will compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or.
Based on the non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith C. Brown, Benedetta follows the journey of a 17th-century novice nun who joins an Italian convent and begins a love affair with another woman. The trailer offers an insight into a dramatic retelling of a tragic tale that suggests moments of desperation, romance and the over-arching power of religion.
The short teaser trailer packs an enticing punch, with hints at explicit sex scenes and endless drama. Virginie Efira looks set to display fierce raw emotion in her role as the titular Benedetta. Charlotte Rampling, Daphné Patakia, Lambert Wilson and Olivier Rabourdin also star in the thriller, which is set to mark Verhoeven’s and David Birke’s return at co-writing since their 2016 effort Elle.
Scenes of violent punishment, strict religious dogma and the misunderstood dynamics of homosexuality are peppered throughout the trailer. Filming took place in both Italy and France with limited access to the set, due to fears of reactions from fundamentalist Catholic associations.
Verhoeven is a veteran director who has directed multiple hits since the 1970s, including Total Recall, Basic Instinct and RoboCop. He is active in both the Netherlands and Hollywood and has built his career through violent movies nuanced by satire and a vivid imagination. Hopefully Benedetta succeeds more than Verhoeven’s 1995 film Showgirls, a film that was critically assassinated—though now enjoys a cult following.
Pathé is producing and distributing the film, with the initial premiere at the Cannes Film Festival postponed from 2019 to 2021 due to COVID-19. Festival director Thierry Fremaux describes Benedetta as “an erotic and mischievous, also political, vision of the Middle Ages in a grandiose production.”
This controversial lesbian nun thriller has huge potential; if the film lives up to the excitement exuded in the trailer, then you should be eagerly awaiting the release date later this year.
Words by Anna Farrer
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