Parents' Guide to

Benedetta

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Graphic French "nunsploitation" drama has sex, gore.

Movie NR 2021 131 minutes
Benedetta Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

Sex, Lies, and Catholicism

[[Worst scene disclaimer: HORRIFIC sexual torture scene in the last act. Easily the most disturbing part of the film. A fully nude woman is violated with a metal phallus (offscreen thankfully) but her chilling performance makes the scene almost unbearable to watch]]. In the hands of Hollywood this would have been patronizing, tripe filled with charicatures and buzzwords to pander to "modern" social sensibilities that absolve all acountability from our heroines and take cheap potshots at Christianity that would make Family Guy cringe. But what we have is a challenging and genuinely transgressive look at how wo/man perceives God; in a world where no one wants to be evil but everybody is guilty of something. That doesnt stop Paul Verhoven (of Robocop, Basic Instinct, and Starship Troopers fame/ infamy) from adding some B-movie flair here and with graphic violenece and ample flaunting of the female leads' phisiques. There is disturbing imagery of bubonic plague victims, religious flagelation, a suicide, stigmata, crucifixion, immolation, a dream sequence where several men brutally attempt to rape a woman before being killed with lots of CGI blood and gore and a brutal stabbing. Theres also 3 lesbian sex scenes; including one with a dildo made from a figurine of the virgin Mary (no nudity), masturbation (one woman is topless as the other self gratifies) preceded by one woman putting her hand on the genitals of the other in close up, and a lengthy one with both partners fully nude with lots of kissing and squeezing of breasts. The movie generally has loads of full frontal female nudity both sexual and not. The sexual ones are filmed in a very showy manner. The film definitely tries to push buttons but its rarely for cheap shock value and always makes you think about the impact of every scene. Albiet im not sure how true to historical record the Mary Dildo is. Though the susbtance may be lost to those under 18 in favor of titalation from what technically qualifies for Nun/sexspoitation.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Paul Verhoeven's "nunsploitation" drama explores faith and belief and sex and violence in a way that rivals even his most controversial movies: Basic Instinct and Showgirls. He presents Benedetta in a surprisingly straightforward way, even kicking off with the claim that it's based on true events. Yet even as the film reaches high for powerful themes, it dives down below the belt into exploitation elements so silly they're shocking, and vice versa. There's an obsession with female breasts (the left one in particular) and obvious attempts at subversive imagery, such as the Virgin Mary statuette carved into a sex toy. And there are graphic, gratuitous sex scenes galore. Benedetta's visions of Jesus look like the painted covers of cheesy romance novels.

But Verhoeven has a point. The movie continually explores themes of faith in surprising ways. The first Abbess (Charlotte Rampling) insists that true faith can come only from suffering, and that suffering is something that one should actually pray for. Another nun explains that "your body is your own worst enemy" and "intelligence can be dangerous." All of these things seem to go against the very idea of life itself, and when Benedetta starts to gain power through her smarts and her seeking of pleasure, she seems to become something rather divine. In the 1970s, a subgenre that came to be dubbed "nunsploitation" attempted to clash strict religious beliefs with carnality, and Verhoeven does precisely that again with Benedetta, stamping it with his own unique style.

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