Paul Verhoeven’s latest movie is Benedetta, a historical drama about Benedetta Carlini, a novice nun in the 17th century who joins an Italian convent and has a lesbian love affair with another nun. Honestly, it’s kind of a surprise that it’s taken this long for the director of Showgirls and Basic Instinct to make a lesbian nun movie. After premiering at Cannes, the movie is now playing at the New York Film Festival, and that makes some people very angry.
Once again, it should be of no surprise to anyone that there are protests over a Paul Verhoeven lesbian nun movie. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the director paid for these people to turn up and get some fun publicity going. The festival itself even took advantage of the angry crowd with their own promotional tweets.
The accusations are all familiar: it’s blasphemous, it’s anti-Catholic, it would make Jesus mad (in fairness, the son of Christ always preferred Verhoeven’s earlier Dutch movies.) One sign says ‘defamation is not free speech’, which makes me wonder how these people think a legal case would be mounted on those grounds against Benedetta. I doubt Benedetta Carlini, who’s been dead since 1661, has her lawyers at the ready.
The film lovers of New York had fun with this one.
Really need to find a way to get my hands on the “Mary, we love you!” sign from the “Benedetta” protest at NYFF. pic.twitter.com/ffVo2zs9Cc— Joe Reid (@joereid) September 27, 2021
“I also want to thank The Catholic League. There is a long tradition of many Paul Verhoeven films being protested by all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. Thank you for keeping that tradition going.” pic.twitter.com/SuIpdgIbwu— 59th New York Film Festival (@TheNYFF) September 26, 2021
Benedetta played like a rock concert at NYFF even sans Verhoeven. can’t imagine this was scheduled for a sunday by accident— Rob Plainview (@ClooneyDisciple) September 26, 2021
the crowd was even more amped after the tone setting protest outside (hats off to all involved with the “Mary, we love you!” sign) pic.twitter.com/JVEA0nYkyf
thankful to the NYFF benedetta protestors for the elite reaction photo content they’ve gifted the public pic.twitter.com/dXc9bm5Qet— tiia kelly (@tiiakel) September 27, 2021
catholic benedetta protest pic.twitter.com/kZURJVhO9o— Luke Hicks @ NYFF (@lou_kicks) September 26, 2021
I love the implication of these protests that the film lovers familiar with Verhoeven’s work will see the signs, go ‘wait, lesbian nuns!? I won’t stand for this’, and leave. Guys, that’s why we’re going to watch it! We want the blasphemy and the controversy. Did none of you see Black Book or Elle? You’re missing out, clearly.
For the interested and the damned, Benedetta is scheduled to be released in the United States on 3rd December.
Header Image Source: Pathé // Mubi