I’ve been imagining atmospheric slivers of Paul Verhoeven‘s Benedetta since the project began filming in Italy (Montepulciano, Val d’Orcia, Bevagna) and France almost three years ago. Who hasn’t?

One would presume that the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (7.6 through 7.17) would premiere Benedetta two or three days before the European commercial debut (Friday, 7.9).

Based upon Judith C. Brown‘s 1986 book “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy,” and infused with Verhoeven’s “sense of the sacred.” (We all know what that probably means.**)

Cannes honcho Thierry Fremaux last year: “Paul Verhoeven delivers an erotic and mischievous, also political, vision of the Middle Ages in a grandiose production.” The key terms, trust me, are “mischievous” and “grandiose.”

** The script was co-authored by Verhoeven and David Burke (Elle). An earlier adaptation, which would have been titled Blessed Virgin, was penned by Jean-Claude Carrière. Veteran Verhoeven collaborator Gerard Soeteman (Turkish Delight, The Fourth Man, Black Book), replaced Carrière, although Soeteman “ultimately distanced himself from the project and had his name removed from the credits as he felt too much of the story was focused on sexuality.”