Benedetta

Benedetta ★★★½

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The virtue of Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta is in how it easily places itself in the lineage of works of Pier Paolo Pasolini (Teorema, The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, etc) and many of Jean-Claude Brisseau’s films. The vice of Benedetta, though, is that instead of the aesthetical and philosophical depths of Pasolini’s oeuvre or the very spontaneous and transcendental eroticism of Brisseau’s vision —that could enable the film to flow more organically and freely back and forth between the physical and the metaphysical realms — Verhoeven frequently relies too excessively on manufacturing a kitschy, exploitative quality that doesn’t completely correspond with the context of his film here. Most possibly, in the same manner of its titular character, you can consider the film both charlatanic and/or insightful, cartoonish and/or shocking. But what’s certain is, Verhoeven (maybe more than any other filmmaker today) still knows well how to seduce, entice and tease his audiences on their most basic sensorial and instinctive levels.