“The Two Popes” is a biographical drama directed by Fernando Meirelles and written by Anthony McCarten. The film is adapted from McCarten’s 2017 play “The Pope”. I don’t think this movie is for everyone however for those who are okay with about a third of the dialogue set in a foreign language (English captioned) and don’t mind a slower-paced film, The Two Popes, which is very well written and directed, is probably for you.
In April 2005, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is called to Vatican City after the death of Pope John Paul II to elect a new pope. German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Anthony Hopkins) is elected Pope Benedict XVI; Bergoglio, a close runner-up, received the second-highest vote count. Seven years later, the Catholic Church is embroiled in the Vatican leaks scandal, and Benedict’s tenure has been tainted by public accusations regarding his role in the cover-up. Controversy rages over how the Church handled pedophile priests, especially Peter Hullermann, who Cardinal Ratzinger had personally relocated to a different parish where he continued abusing children. The pope repeated his decision to transfer Hullermann each time his behavior was exposed.
Meanwhile, Bergoglio submitted his resignation as Archbishop, but the Vatican has not responded. As he prepares to go to Rome and personally deliver his resignation letter to the Pope, he receives a request to come to the Vatican. Bergoglio and Pope Benedict meet at the Palace of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence. The two debate the roles of God and the church. Benedict recounts what led him to the priesthood and talks about his personal interests. The two watch Benedict’s favorite TV show, Kommisar Rex, further delaying their discussion about Bergoglio’s resignation.
Bergoglio recounts his early life and path into the church. He ended his marital engagement and joined the Jesuits. He was met by Father Franz Jalics (Lisandro Fiks) and Father Orlando Yorio (Germán de Silva), who becomes his spiritual friends. Benedict rejects Bergoglio’s resignation, saying the world would perceive it as a vote of no confidence in his leadership and weaken the Catholic Church. Benedict and Bergoglio put aside their differences and chat informally, gradually warming to each other.
This story is so emotional and heartfelt, one should make sure tissues are available when watching. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, from the outfits worn by the Pope, Archbishops, and Cardinals to the actual rooms of the Vatican and the summer residence of the Pope. I think The Two Popes should have gotten a nomination for Cinematography. I feel this film has a soft tone to its aura and a spiritual ambiance that sets the mood for the audience. I was totally wrapped up in this story of two men (who are not without sin) confess their biggest indiscretions to each other before making the biggest decision of their lives. The Two Popes is a very intense movie with a surprising and satisfying ending. The Two Popes is currently digital streaming on Netflix. Since it’s snowing here, I’m enjoying having the luxury of watching several films from the comfort of my recliner because of Netflix. While The Two Popes may be a tad bit slow, the film is brilliant and deserves attention from the “world of movie lovers” for its achievements. Check It Out!
[THE TWO POPES is Oscar-nominated for BEST: Actor, Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay — TOTALING 3 OSCAR NOMINATIONS]