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Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta Is Borderline Porn With Deeply Offensive Aesthetics

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Benedetta

Benedetta

Starring  Virginie Efira ,Charlotte Rampling ,Daphne Patakia as Bartolomea

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Rating: *

Benedetta: What is wrong with Paul  Verhoeven who  once upon  a time made  clenched actioners like  RoboCop and Total Recall. Then he  discovered the  pleasures of forbidden  sex in Basic Instinct and  the  disastrous Showgirls. His last film Elle in 2016 had Isabelle  Hupert actually enjoying rape.

 I thought  the  virulent  voyeurism  of  Verhoeven  couldn’t get worse. In Benedetta  he  proves  me wrong. Set in the  17th century—so  no vibrators and  other  stimulants—the deeply offensive   film is one  long marathon of  naked breasts and simulated  vaginas set in a Catholic convent where  the nuns seem  to be hornier than sex workers in a brothel. They rub each other and themselves. They even get  turned on defecating together.

 There is  a sequence where we actually see the two heroines Benedetta(Virginie Efira) and  Bartolomea(Daphne Patakia) shitting together.Benedetta even offers her new friend some  dry grass after the  act. It’s all  supposed to be extremely erotic.  But  comes across as acutely idiotic, with the nuns flashing  their breasts  out of habit(pun intended).

The  loose film is based loosely on the 1986  novel Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith  Brown  and purports to  package  the acts  of  rebellion in an oppressive  convent where  sexual frustration  runs  rampant.

Also Read:  Is Director Gautham Menon Shooting Nayanthara’s Wedding ?

So does the  director’s imagination ,which is  borderline prurient. The nudity and lovemaking are    intended  to be casually seductive, Instead  they are offensively violent  and misrepresented. The  nudity is downright gratuitous, with the nuns  slipping out of their habits  with the expertise  of women who  do such things  for  financial rather than emotional satisfaction.

The two young actresses do well for themselves whenever the script allows  them to get  out  bed. The last  20 minutes of the perverse  proceedings  when the  politics  of  religion faces a vaginal protest are specially  mortifying  and forged. The  violence on the streets as  the evil cleric (Lambert Wilson)  is  mob-lynched is  so hellishly  gratuitous  it makes you wonder why Verhoeven is  still directing films at  83.

 Is he   still in search  of that sliver  of  salvation that is secreted between the legs.

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