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“Benedetta” or Paul Verhoeven’s Miracle Fair. This movie is a fat, meaty satire

Benedetta" or Paul Verhoeven's Miracle Fair

In his latest film, “Benedetta” Paul Verhoeven made fragments of the biography of the Catholic mystic a vehicle for merciless mockery. He also did not fail to provide the viewers with a lot of juicy fun: in this melting pot, after all, pastiche, a political thriller, covid references, nunsploitation, melodrama and even more have been mixed. Somehow (and miracles are of great importance here), the combination of all these components tastes great.
“Benedetta” by Paul Verhoeven adapts elements of the biography of Benedetta Carlini, a homosexual nun and Catholic mystic – a figure so interesting that her biography and related events are constantly subject to new analyzes and interpretations. Briefly: Carlini was born into an Italian family who bought her a place in the Convent of Our Lady of Pescla.

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At the age of thirty, she became Mother Superior herself, but in the meantime, she reported to others that she was experiencing disturbing, divine visions. Benedetta (in the film portrayed by the inspired Virginie Efir) also had an affair with Bartolomea (the excellent, aggressive Daphné Patakia) delegated to help and accompany her. These most important elements of the mystic’s story were used by Verhoeven (not necessarily in strict accordance with the sources) and illustrated in his own way (and in his own style), mixing together several interpretations popular in feminist religious studies and … spicy seasoning them.

Benedetta – Paul Verhoeven’s film review

Benedetta – reviewIt will come as no surprise that Benedetta challenges and undermines religious structures. From a shallow (and, in my opinion, conscious) provocation, Verhoeven neatly moves on to an in-depth analysis of more or less hidden prejudices in the institutions of faith – prejudices separated from abuse and violence only by an opportunity. He leans – forgive – a woman’s body perceived as inherently sinful in needs and functions. He is not afraid to reveal his fascination, he tries to infect it – he filters the bodily needs and physical extremes through religious iconography.

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Meanwhile, he brazenly mocks Church greed and politics; Blind faith collides with illusion and imagination, points with his fingers at the downplaying narratives of pandemic denialists, plays with words, flesh, and blood (bowing to the subgenre of nunsploitation), enclosing the whole thing in an unceremoniously kitschy, camp environment and often illustrating with surprisingly beautiful frames. The icing on the cake was unrefined humor (Verhoeven questions the words about suffering in the film, which is allegedly the only way to get to know Christ, by having Benedetta say his name immediately after her first orgasm, after her intercourse with Bartolomea).

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Yes, “Benedetta” hits unexpected, surprising tones every now and then. Verhoeven cleverly manipulates the mood of the events depicted, fully aware of how much fun the viewers will have, trying to guess what his new film is trying to be and what he really wants to say (for a long time he keeps us in the dark and uncertain about the intention and truthfulness) the words of the title character).

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Melodrama, romance, erotic, thriller; comets, blasphemous masturbations, epidemics and Jesus without a penis defeating enemies with a sword. Above all, however: a greasy, fleshy satire on problematic, important and disturbingly topical issues. And on top of that, probably one of the director’s most personal films (full creative freedom!), Taking into account his fascinations and literary works.

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