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Paul Verhoeven Blessed Virgin

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2018: #3. Paul Verhoeven’s Blessed Virgin

Blessed Virgin

Paul Verhoeven famously returned from a decade long absence with a bang in 2016, unveiling the controversial Elle (read ★★★★ review) at the Cannes Film Festival, starring Isabelle Huppert (our interview with her) in what would become a career highlight (the French star took home her second Cesar, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar nod, plus a clutch of other notable distinctions in the US). The film additionally took home a Cesar for Best Picture and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. That said, Verhoeven suddenly became a hot commodity once again, and soon after chairing the Berlin Film Festival jury, announced plans for a new controversial collaboration with producer Said Ben Said, an adaptation of historian Judith C. Brown’s 1986 book on 17th century lesbian nun Sister Benedetta Carlini, a woman charged with heresy for fabricating miracles and who was eventually imprisoned for 35 years. Although Verhoeven’s infamous Christ project continues to elude him, this seems an inspired substitute. Reuniting him with Virginie Efira, who appeared in Elle, this promises to be something along the lines of Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) knowing Verhoeven’s predilections (plus his Black Book scribe Gerard Soeteman has penned the adaptation).

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Release Date/Prediction: While producer Said Ben Said confirmed production was scheduled to begin in early 2018 (Virginie Efira should have already completed the new Joachim Lafosse production by then), the earliest we could potentially see Blessed Virgin would be Venice 2018 (Verhoeven competed on the Lido in 2006 with Black Book). Considering Verhoeven and Said also expressed interest in tackling the more ambitious WWII effort Lyon 1943, we’re hoping this project has a faster production track than Elle (which was delayed because Verhoeven took the time to learn French first).

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), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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