The transgressive eroticism of Basic Instinct and Showgirls director Paul Verhoeven is back. In place of Vegas dancers and ice-pick-wielding bisexual killers, his latest movie features lesbian nuns engaging in clandestine sex acts in 17th century Italy.
Benedetta is set to premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in July after being delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The French-language movie has unveiled its first trailer, which features abundant nudity and explicit sex scenes while also showing off elaborate period detail and a top-notch supporting cast, including Charlotte Rampling and Lambert Wilson.
***Watch below (Warning: Graphic content)***
The movie is based on a true account of a lesbian nun published by American professor Judith C. Brown. Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy tells the story of Benedetta Carlini, who claims to have experienced religious visions and even communicated with Jesus.
The Catholic Church later discovered her claims were fake while also uncovering a secret lesbian affair with a young novitiate. Belgian actress Virginie Efira plays Benedetta, while Charlotte Rampling plays the Mother Superior of the convent.
Benedetta is Paul Verhoeven’s first movie since 2016’s Elle, which starred Isabelle Huppert as a rape victim whose desire for revenge takes her in unexpected directions.
Verhoeven — who also directed the original Robocop and the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall — has long been fascinated by religion. In 2011, he published the non-fiction book Jesus of Nazareth, which sought to portray the Messiah as a secular historical figure rather than a religious one.
Benedetta is set to be released in France in July. No U.S. release date has been announced.