Paul Verhoeven’s Lesbian Nun Drama ‘Benedetta’ Wows Critics: ‘Erotic,’ ‘Phenomenal’

Cannes 2021: “You have never seen a movie quite like this one”


Paul Verhoeven’s lesbian nun drama “Benedetta” just premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, and early viewers took to social media to praise the film and the filmmaker’s direction.

“Absolute Verhoeven,” World of Reel’s Jordan Ruimy said. “Erotic, violent, religiously sinful and absurdist. You have never seen a movie quite like this one. It’s a feminist take on Christ. If Virginie Efira doesn’t win Best Actress then there is no God.”

Fandango’s Brian Formo added: “Is ‘Benedetta’ one of Paul Verhoeven’s best? No. But is it one of his most subversive? Absolutely. It’s a riot. Let yourself be surprised. It makes sense that it’s released same day in France as #Cannes premiere. ‘Lesbian nuns’ is only the half of it.”

“Benedetta” is an erotic drama directed by Verhoeven about a young nun in 17th century Italy who carries on an affair with another nun, and it’s inspired by a nonfiction book by historian Judith C. Brown. Virginia Efira and Charlotte Rampling star in the film that IFC Films picked up for North American release, while Mubi nabbed the UK and Ireland rights.

In France it opened in theaters the same day as its Cannes premiere on Friday.

See early reactions below.

Editor’s note: The author of this story is not related to the director Paul Verhoeven.

Check out TheWrap’s digital Cannes magazine issue here. You can find all of TheWrap’s Cannes coverage here.


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