Jesus appears briefly in Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s new feature Benedetta – an overwhelming succès de scandale in Cannes last week. The film is wilfully and wildly provocative. If you enjoy stories that include defecating nuns, Virgin Mary topped sex toys and plenty of sapphic writhing, wriggling and tickling beneath the wimples, rejoice: this one’s for you.
It stars Virginie Efira as Benedetta Carlini, a lesbian 17th-century nun who is having visions of Jesus on the cross that fuel her wildest erotic fantasies. In Benedetta’s fervent imagination, the saviour of the world is her demon lover. She pictures him as a rugged, bloodied, alpha-male type whose crown of thorns and swordsmanship skills only add to his potency and attractiveness.
At first, Jesus warns Benedetta to stay away from Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia), the beautiful young woman who has found refuge from her abusive father in the convent. But then he changes his mind and tells her to take her clothes off after Bartolomea asks to see her naked.
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