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Benedetta – Paul Verhoeven

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #1. Benedetta – Paul Verhoeven

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #1. Benedetta – Paul Verhoeven


Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven made a whopping comeback with his first French language film in 2016’s Elle, which snagged Isabelle Huppert (check out our interview) a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. The film’s success has allowed for Verhoeven to announced plans for future projects with producer Said Ben Said (a feat considering it had been a decade since Verhoeven’s last prior feature, 2006’s Black Book). After serving as Jury President at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival, Verhoeven set his sights on Benedetta (initially announced as Blessed Virgin). Screenwriter David Birke (Elle) returns as screenwriter while actress Virginie Efira (most recently seen in Catherine Corsini’s Un amour impossible and who had a minor supporting role in Elle), takes center stage. Lambert Wilson and the iconic Charlotte Rampling populate the supporting cast. Verhoeven’s prowess at portraying complex facets of sexuality should be well-served for this material, which could potentially be in the vein or tone of something like Ken Russell’s infamous Aldous Huxley adaptation with 1971’s The Devils (review).

Gist: Based on Judith C. Brown’s 1986 book Immodest Acts, Benedetta relays the scandalous narrative of Sister Benedetta Carlini, Abbess of the Convent of the Mother of God, and her lesbian romance with a companion assisting her through a plight of disturbing religions and erotic visions.

Release Date/Prediction: Filming commenced in Tuscany in July of 2018. Considering the reaction to Elle (which unfortunately went home empty handed following its 2016 premiere at Cannes), we’re certain Verhoeven should return to compete in Cannes with Benedetta for the third time (following Basic Instinct in 1992 and Elle in 2016).

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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