Paul Verhoeven possesses exactly the directorial chops for what has inevitably been dubbed ‘the lesbian nun movie’. Benedetta Carlini was a real nun in the early 17th century in Pescia, a small village in Northern Italy who started to have visions of Jesus.
Are these manifestations of Christ real or part of an act? The question of Benedetta’s motives hangs in the air of the entire film almost like a mystery. When the worldly Bartolomea arrives at the convent, this leads to a forbidden passionate affair, which threatens to unleash chaos on both them and the town of Pescia.
Verhoeven works in mysterious ways, mixing lurid, cynical exploitation with fluid storytelling and the principled irreverence of a satirist whose art always punches up against institutional dogma and scores a knockout.