Courtesy Guy Ferrandis, SBS Productions

Blessed be Paul Verhoeven. The filmmaker known for his controversial commentaries of society and its ilk—Showgirls, Starship Troopers, and RoboCop, among others—is back with a blasphemous fury. Loosely based on the life of Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira), a 17th-century nun and mystic who was persecuted for having a lesbian relationship, Benedetta is a biting examination of Catholicism with a sly sense of humor. As a young girl, Benedetta is told she is the wife of Jesus, who manifests himself in her surreal and brutally stylized visions. But there is a looming question of whether or not she is a fraud—or in fact a true vessel of God in the face of a soon-to-be plague-torn village. Her rise to the top of the convent is buoyed by a budding relationship with novice Bartolomea (Daphné Patakia) who, with the help of a sacrilegious sex toy, fuels the mania and fervor of the women around them. Throughout his career, Verhoeven has been fixated on societal structures—whether it be capitalism, the military, or the Catholic church—and how they work to remove any individuality or humanity in order to more easily control those at the bottom. Benedetta is no exception, highlighting the hypocrisy and rot at the core of religion, the rampant repression of carnal desires, and the ostracization of anyone outside the margins of godliness. 131 min.

Music Box Theatre, AMC Theatres