Sunday, 8 December 2019

"The Two Popes": A papacy buddy movie...

Today I saw this in the theatre with a friend of mine - it was one I had been looking forward to for quite some time.  Though I quite enjoyed it, the tone was not what I expected at all.  I thought from the trailer that this was going to be a serious period piece, but it in fact turned out to be a bit of a dramedy.  That in mind, I still felt it (mostly) worked.

Though a great deal of artistic license was taken in the story, this is based on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and his relationship to Jorge Bergoglio, the cardinal that would be Pope Francis.  Beautifully shot and expertly cast, the look does not disappoint.  It starts to get really quirky, however, when a rendition of "Dancing Queen" by ABBA plays while the cardinals are entering their chambers to cast ballots for the new Pope - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.  If you can't handle quirkiness in a historical religious movie, you will not like this film.  Sometimes the choices raised even my eyebrows, but in a way I liked how the tone could be rather silly - it was not without a sense of humour, and usually the humour worked.

This is kind of a story about a conservative curmudgeon and a progressive freethinker initially being at odds with one another, ultimately coming to be good friends - so yes, I think of this as a buddy movie.  There are some powerful scenes, though, including flashbacks to Bergoglio's youth, so not all of it is comedy.  It could also be very moving.

I can't for the life of me figure out what the church is going to think of this one - they may like the relaxed tone here because it makes the papacy look slightly friendlier in some ways, or they may find it annoying.  I had to warn my mother, who also wants to see it, to be prepared for the feel not being what the trailer presents, but I think she will still enjoy it.

If anything else, it's something different, and quite entertaining.  Recommended.


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