Venice and Locarno fest favorite Paolo Benvenuti returns with another slab of rigorous historical documentation in “Gostanza da Libbiano,” shot in black and white and based on the original trial records of the eponymous, 60-year-old Tuscan nun accused of witchcraft in 1594. A total yawner for the unconverted, film makes no cinematic virtue of its stylistic rigor and makes Benvenuti’s previous effort, “Tiburzi” (about hunted bandits), look almost mainstream.
Pic completes a “trilogy of identity” begun with “The Kiss of Judas” (1988) and continued with “Confortorio” (1992). Gostanza (played with equanimity by Lucia Poli) is confronted, strung up, imprisoned and interrogated by church representatives of varying callousness — all shot with a cool distance and deliberate objectivity. “Adopting a feminine quality — that of welcoming rather than penetrating — I allowed myself to be carried, with complete trust, by my sensibility,” says Benvenuti in pic’s press material. Ecco.