The Two Popes Review
What’s It About?
A supposed series of meetings between two diametrically opposed popes – outgoing Pope Benedict, and incoming Pope Francis with one representing the past status quo, and the other heralding in a new era.
Who’s In It?
Anthony Hopkins (The Elephant Man, The Silence Of The Lambs, The Remains Of The Day, & more recently Westworld)
Jonathan Pryce (Brazil, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Wife, & Game Of Thrones)
Director: Fernando Meirelles (City Of God, The Constant Gardener, & 360)
A two hour conversation between two men of the clergy may not be the most exciting premise on paper, but when those two men are a reactionary pope and a progressive pope, played by two giants of the screen, well then that’s another matter.
Directed by Fernando Meirelles of City Of God and The Constant Gardener fame, though less noteworthy projects of late, The Two Popes is a fascinating, if fictional, insight into life within the Vatican.
The story begins with the election of the ambitious Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who once ascending power and the trappings of power, find the weight gets heavier as Pope Benedict as the Catholic Church is mired in scandal. Meanwhile his great rival Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, a popular and progressive man, is looking to retire after years of service. Yet Pope Benedict refuses to grant it. Is he being vindictive or does he have other plans?
Brilliantly performed by two heavyweights at the top of their game, with a shrug of the shoulder here, or a cock of the eyebrow there, the script is very much elevated by Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. The film really comes alive as these two clearly irritate each other, as well as in flashback scenes to explain how they became who they are, but unfortunately as the pair find compromise, the film’s edge softens significantly.
It also fails to look in more detail at the abuse claims, and in particular the backstory of Ratzinger and the Nazi claims that dogged him. Nevertheless, it is worth watching just for the leads.
In A Nutshell:
A masterclass in acting between two giants as two diametrically opposed characters in an intriguing film.
Seeing these two acting giants spar with each other is a real treat
Unfortunately it doesn’t delve into the past of Pope Benedict and some of those criticisms levelled against him
Certificate: 12 / 12A