The Virgin Mary didn’t come to Benedetta, Benedetta “came” to the Virgin Mary! The movie is in French with English subtitles.
What better way to celebrate the Christmas season than to watch a lesbian/nun movie set in 17th Century Italy? Based on a true story, its sexual scenes are even more seductive than those between Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite (2020).
On top of that (no pun intended), Director Paul Verhoeven actually tells an intriguing story. It begins when Benedetta is placed in a convent as a young child by her parents as a reward to God. The Abyss, played by Charlotte Rampling, will accept her as long as it is accompanied by a generous financial contribution.
The film then bolts ahead 18 years where Benedetta begins an intense relationship with a new novice who has suffered an intense sexual attack by her family. She takes her under her wing and then shortly thereafter under her bedroom covers.
The movie centers on Benedetta’s ouster of Ms. Rampling as the convent’s leader when she claims to not only converse with Jesus but to have suffered the stigmata, Christ’s 5 wounds. Her leadership surprisingly inspires the other nuns, though the film concludes with her facing being burned at the stake for her perfidy.
Despite the fact that Virginie Efira and Daphne Patakia give tremendous performances as Benedetta and the novice, there was a reason I was alone in the theater. Most of you will be appalled by the film’s story and I suspect it will quickly disappear on the silver screen. Put another way, the movie’s “climax” occurs in the middle of the film, not it’s ending!
Then again, I attended a Catholic grade school run by Franciscan nuns as a kid growing up in Batesville, Indiana. Even in the 1950’s, my intelligent mother’s only concern was her son’s spending time alone with some of our Franciscan priests. She was a smart woman and taught me the meaning of “better be safe than sorry.”