New movies to stream this week: 'Benedetta,' 'Adrienne' and more
Inspired by the true life story of the 17th-century Catholic mystic and nun Benedetta Carlini, who was accused of having a sexual relationship with another nun, "Benedetta" is the latest film from Paul Verhoeven. (Yes, that Paul Verhoeven, director of "RoboCop" and "Elle," but best known for the camp classic "Showgirls.") It's hard to know whether any of this film - which stars the great Charlotte Rampling, yet is filled with gratuitously voyeuristic sex, graphic violence and, as a dash of gravitas, religious hypocrisy - is meant to be taken seriously. Released by IFC Films under its IFC Midnight sub-label, a niche designation known for genre movies about aliens, zombies and vampires, "Benedetta" stars the Belgian actress Virginie Efira in the title role of a young and manipulative liar (at least in this telling, co-written by Verhoeven and David Birke, adapting Judith C. Brown's book "Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy"). Benedetta's lover is played by Daphne Patakia, and the film lavishes its drooling attention on the mechanics of the pair's lovemaking. When Benedetta places a nine-inch carved wooden statuette of the Virgin Mary on her nightstand, you know where this is going. Have I mentioned that the tale is set against the backdrop of the bubonic plague, aka the Black Death? That gives Verhoeven the opportunity to spotlight the festering, boil-like buboes that are the disease's signature symptom. Whether you want to go along for the ride, which is a wild and nasty one, depends entirely on your ability to find the humor, intentional or not, in the lurid, the ecstatic and the revolting. Unrated. Available on demand; also opening at area theaters. Contains sex, nudity, violence, torture, crude language, antisemitic remarks, disturbing images of disease and scatological material. In French with subtitles. 131 minutes.
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