Italy, the beginning of the 17th century. Benedetta, a nun who as a child has been assigned to a convent in Pesa, is haunted by religious visions. When a new novice, Bartholomew, arrives at the convent and takes an unequivocal interest in Benedetta, the visions become more and more realistic and the nun displays stigmata on her hands and feet.
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The fame and glory of the world is sometimes all too fleeting. Yesterday you might be revered as a saint, but once you stumble, those who put you in power will be ready to light a fire and consign your former idol to oblivion at once. This is something we have seen repeatedly throughout a long and sometimes very brutal human history. Both world leaders with unshakable reputations and people from the art and religious worlds are not really untouchable. Even their smallest mistakes come at a high price, and the reckoning is sure to come. And like no one else knows all the terrible delights of human reverence and hatred the main character of the cult book Judith K. Brown, “Immodest Acts: the life of a lesbian nun in Renaissance Italy,” which finally got a decent movie adaptation, created with the participation of the inimitable Paul Verhoeven.
So, the plot of the film takes us into a difficult, eventful, full of amazing revelations and, at the same time, the true cruelty of the 17th century. The Renaissance era is gradually approaching its logical conclusion. Civilized society is trying to look at the world from a slightly different, more enlightened angle, but even in such progressive (compared to the dark Middle Ages) times everyone is under the scrutiny of the environment, and if he is suspected of something unholy, with a greater likelihood of a court verdict for him will be completely disappointing.
At the head of the story is a young nun, Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira), who lives in a convent in Tuscany. Since her childhood, Benedetta knew that she was destined for a special destiny, and so when her parents sent her to serve God in a cloister of innocent virgins, she took it for granted. In her dreams, the girl sees Jesus himself, who reveals his truths to her in a somewhat unusual, frank form, but in real life Benedetta is by no means sinless, and her visions are in fact an illustration of what is really going on in the mind of a nun. The heroine is attracted in body and soul to the newly arrived novice Bartholomew (Daphne Patakia) and this bond is very difficult to break. Benedetta cannot resist the temptation and gives in to it in full. However, this is not the end of the extraordinary Benedetta’s woven paths of life. Traces are found on her body that can be interpreted as the appearance of divine stigmata, and now her fame is spreading far beyond the monastery. Benedetta receives recognition and power, people listen to her and try to please her. But if the girl makes a mistake, she will incur the wrath of those who do not forgive mistakes and will do everything possible to show the overzealous heroine her true place…
Now that the film has been shot and released, it is clear that none other than Paul Verhoeven, who was born to delight audiences with colorful, full of energy and passion erotic thrillers with strong female characters and a moral that can be interpreted in many different ways, could have made it. In Temptation, Verhoeven remains faithful to his trademark directorial style, which we saw in Basic Instinct and Showgirls: it is impossible to take your eyes off the screen action, there are dazzling, but far from simple beauties in the frame, and towards the end there is a complex dramatic revelation that makes you think about many things.
In “Temptation” there are quite a lot of explicit scenes and they are filmed exquisitely. The director knows how to show the female body filigree and not at all vulgar. Besides, there are two important plot components that conditionally divide the narrative into two parts. On the one hand we watch the vivid, intense love line of the two girls, and on the other we watch Benedetta’s emergence as a Catholic icon who gradually fades. And both become two sides of the same coin that can never be separated.
In the end, I want to say that “Temptation” fully lives up to high expectations. Paul Verhoeven has created a film that is able to amaze and definitely linger in the memory for a long time. So I advise to pay special attention to “Temptation”, because this story is worthy for the audience to get acquainted with it.
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (65.8 Mb/s)
Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
German: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English, German, French.