'Benedetta' Ending Explained: What is Italy's final verdict for the lesbian nun?

'Benedetta' Ending Explained: What is Italy's final verdict for the lesbian nun?
Virginie Efira in 'Benedetta' (VoD)

'Benedetta' is a new French film, the storyline of which is loosely based on the non-fiction book called 'Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy', by Judith C Brown. The film premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, competing for the Palme d'Or.

Set in 17th century Italy, the film follows the life events of the lead character Benedetta Carlini, who is an Italian nun in the abbey of a convent in Tuscany, Italy. Carlini was known to be mystical because of her religious visions, but was eventually arrested for her affair with another nun. 

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The provocative French drama movie is based on the true story of a nun who inspired many with her religious visions but was arrested on account of her secret lesbian affair.

Inspired by the true events and life of Benedetta Carlini, 'Benedetta' obtains the status of a holy saint in the city of Pescia. The movie has themes of sex, violence, betrayals, moral ambiguity, and even religious hypocrisy, to name a few.

Shortly after Bartolomea makes herself comfortable in the convent, she begins making moves on Benedetta, is experiencing bizarre visions of snakes trying to kill her, but being saved by Jesus Christ himself, every time. In the film, this phenomenon portrays that the prospect of Benedetta's sexual ecstasy brings her a lot closer to her Lord. This or the fact that the visions are a constant reminder to stay pious and chaste.

Over a span of two hours. Verhoeven makes sure to not bore us and throws in a couple of witty one-liners and staged scenes. They have the maximum impact in all the right settings, keeping the movie's pacing brisk despite its length, since something new is always brewing.

During the last leg of the movie, Benedetta takes her firm stand against the concerned authorities, but there are almost no nuns on her side anymore. When Benedetta and Bartolomea's affair becomes public, it doesn't go down well with populace at the time, for obvious reasons. After Sister Christina commits suicide (overridden with the grief of being falsely accused of sinning), Sister Felicita feels guilty for not defending Christina when she said that Benedetta was faking all of her injuries, having spotted a glass shard near her feet. 

Soon after, Sister Felicita goes to the judge and explains everything that she saw through the little hole in the wall that she made in Benedetta's room — of the explicit sexual gratification, orgasms, and also about the Mother Mary figurine carved and used as a dildo. The court rules that Benedetta is guilty, and since Bartolomea doesn't confess, she is brutally tortured. In time, she points out where the Mother Mary figurine was hidden, as proof to the judges, and rats Benedetta out. 

Benedetta is scheduled to be executed on a pyre, but sees visions of Jesus Christ, and claims that the judge is the villain who brought the plague to Italy. The people of the village instantly believe the voice of their Lord, and beat the judge to death. Meanwhile, Bartolomea unties Benedetta and sets her free. Unfortunately, the plague-diagnosed Sister Felicita has nothing more to live for. She ends her suffering by walking into the pyre, ending her life instantly. 

Benedetta and Bartolomea go into hiding together. Just as we're made to think this will see the two lovers live happily ever after, Benedetta tells Bartolomea that she wants to go back to the monastery and that she was meant to be Christ's, since her birth. A frustrated and upset Bartolomea curses Benedetta as she gets ready to make her way towards the convent.

'Benedetta' was released on December 3, 2021, on VoD

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