When it comes to controversy, the 79 year old director Paul Verhoeven does not shy away. In Elle, his recent comeback after many years away, he portrayed the life of a woman, following a brutal rape at the hands of a masked intruder.

Verhoeven’s next project is bound to also cause a stir as he embarks on adapting Judith C. Brown’s book, Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy, which was published in 1986. Set in the 17th century and focusing on Sister Benedetta Carlini, a so-called visionary nun who rose in the ranks of the Catholic Church due to her religious visions. She was later revealed to be a fake as her fabricated miracles, homosexuality and other charges saw her imprisoned for 35 years.

Paul Verhoeven Blessed Virgin

Virginie Efira, who played the catholic Rebecca, Isabella Huppert’s neighbour in Elle, will take the role of Carlini, a character who entered a convent at the age of nine and went on to have religious and erotic visions in her early twenties. Verhoeven will reunite with his Elle producer Saïd Ben Saïd on the project which will have the title Blessed Virgin as he announced via Twitter with a provocative piece of poster art. The film will be shot in French (under the title Sainte Vierge).

With Elle reigniting Verhoeven’s stagnant career, this news is bound to have many critics salivating at the mouth as Elle was a tremendous critical success amongst many male critics, but met with a lukewarm reception amongst the female critics. Elle was overlooked at the Academy Awards, failing to even reach the shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film but won a Golden Globe. It also saw Isabelle Huppert nominated for Best Actress.