The great movie provocateur is back!
Octogenarian Paul Verhoeven is still active and doing what he loves most: poking, prodding, questioning!
His beautiful career that began in 1960 in Holland, his home country, crossed the ocean to shock Hollywood! To spare readers the suspense, know ahead of time that he did it! It is like!
He debuted in the American industry in 1985 with Bloody Conquest, starring Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh, where already from the title, including the original ‘Flesh and Blood’ (Flesh and Blood), we saw what the filmmaker’s goal was!
Paul Verhoeven is known for narratives that mix graphic violence and sexual content in social satire, which have become trademarks of his drama and science fiction films! Shortly after his debut in the land of Uncle Sam, we witnessed him manage to score his first major global success with the action/sci-fi mix Robocop – The Policeman of the Future (1987), which we remember emphasized violence in such an absurd way that it was comical!
However, nothing was free in Verhoeven’s cinema, who through the film about a policeman murdered by a gang of criminals and later revived by a megacorporation, commented on the nature of humanity, personal identity, corporate greed and corruption, as well as being a rebuke to the policies of Republican President Ronald Reagan!
After the initial bang came: Total Recall (1990); Basic Instinct (1992); Showgirls (1995); Starship Troopers (1997); and O Homem sem Sombra (2000), a work that he himself was not happy with the final result, even so, it expressed well the narrative values of his cinema, through a character that starts with basic provocation and ends with pure evil!
Now, in this 21st century we have seen the Dutch filmmaker return to Europe! In 2016, it was a blast right after the release of the excellent Elle, starring none other than brilliant Isabelle Huppert, making her next release surrounded by much anticipation! Comes to cinemas Benedetta, about a 17th century nun who had shocking religious visions that threatened to shake the Church to its essence, in addition, she also became involved in a love affair with a novice from the convent situated in the region of Tuscany, Italy!
Before we dive into Benedetta, we can at the very least praise Paul Verhoeven at this current point in his career! Not only because of his disposition at 83 years of age, but for being a different eighties among his fellow filmmakers![display-posts orderby="rand"]
While so many of us praise Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg (rightfully so) for being at moments in their careers where they demonstrate, through praised work, a truly touching level of maturity; we have on the other side someone who the more candles he blows, the more ecstatic he wants to appear!
Even if it costs to unbalance the very narrative in question!
Benedetta wants and can be everything at the same time! However, this ended up getting in the way of some of the many reflective proposals that are imbued in the text written by Verhoeven, together with David Birke!
Let’s remember once again that its cinematic mission is to provoke, something it easily achieves here, however, due to the uneven narrative, we realize that this became more superficial than meditative!
An example: the scene where we see the nun Benedetta Carlini, played by Virginie Efira, grappling naked with the young rebellious novice Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia), who decided to make a consolation – phallic instrument with sexual purposes – using a wooden image of the Virgin Maria!
We observed it stimulating and arousing, as much as any pornographic recording found on adult sites, right after we typed into the search box the words ‘nuns’ and ‘sex’!
The Dutch filmmaker went (even) further: he provoked some more demanding film scholars by recreating a figure of Jesus Christ as a savior, but in the superhero style endowed with great abilities, like those we find in the Marvel or DC Comics universe; but also directed another affront, equating film and video game narratives, revealing a villager who also came to save Benedetta as a brawny, bad-looking warrior reminiscent of Kratos from the video game God of War!
Of course, in a story about loving nuns, we would have a direct provocation to the Church (greedy) and the most fanatical (ignorant) devotees, especially those who seek salvation at any cost!
But in the process of extending the narrative too much, always adding new ingredients, we end up watching congested material, which doesn’t flow as naturally as Elle, her admirable previous project, who chose to channel everything into her protagonist!
At this point in the championship, you must have noticed that this text is full of exclamation points! An act intended to indicate what Paul Verhoeven wanted with Benedetta, in this case, to emphatically exclaim all his ideas, which end up delivering (really) appreciative entertainment in an intelligible but thoughtless narrative line!