As always, many thanks to Courtney of Cinemaaxis.com.
This story may revolve around Catholicism and its traditions and beliefs, but the film transcends this framework and, incredibly, manages to avoid any political bias. The airtight script creates a consistent, relaxed tone: the chemistry between Pryce and Hopkins – Pope Benedict and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio respectively – is instantly at the fore despite their conversations bouncing from one issue to another, mostly revolving around the issues Benedict has with many of the statements and stances Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio has made. Pope Benedict is a deeply conservative man; the direct opposite of Bergoglio, whose ideas are far more progressive, and his desire to remain a cardinal is waning. Slowly over the course of the film though, these disagreements are put aside and a friendship slowly begins to form. Then the crux of the narrative arrives – Pope Benedict is resigning from the Papacy due to scandals that are unspecified in the film: it again deftly avoids taking a side. Artistic license is used whimsically as the script again generates interesting and witty conversation that never ceases to be engaging, or interesting, or funny!
The Pope invites Borgoglio to the Vatican for a second time, and again their chemistry is obvious as they slowly become relaxed in each others company. There is a surprising amount of understated humour that, while it won’t have you clutching your stomach in laughter, it will bring a smile to your face many times; it is a consistently pleasant movie. While not religious personally, religion has always fascinated me. The traditions we do see here unfortunately have one wondering how accurate it all is. The process of voting for a new Pope is somehow quite tense, a testament to how the entire film has been put together. We will never know how close the film is to the truth, but the reality is that an immensely entertaining film has, somehow, been created surrounding two popes.
Hopkins and Pryce are flawless, their performances indicative of their experience, both displaying a range of emotions, especially Hopkins. The many close-ups emphasise this. Both performances are the most convincing acting I have seen all year, and without both actors, I doubt this film would exist. Regardless of faith or lack thereof, this is a film to see! The core story of a friendship blooming from an unlikely place is fun to watch. Don’t forget the scenes that begin at the start of the credits either; they are priceless and represent the theme of the film perfectly. Fernando Meirelles and Anthony McCarten have created a brilliant film, another stellar release on Netflix. Regardless of one’s faith, or lack thereof, The Two Popes‘ story of a friendship blooming from an unlikely place can be enjoyed by anyone.
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