The Two Popes

6.5/10 As a non-Catholic, I wasn’t super excited to check out this film but the fact that it is an original film paired with its Academy Award nominations convinced me to give it a shot. This film commits some sins but also is forgiven due to other strengths. As for its sins, the film leaned a little too heavy into the flashback sequences for my liking and some of the flashback scenes were in black in white and others were in color. I think keeping them all in color or all in black and white would have been a wiser choice for consistency sake. Some moments also dragged a little bit and near the beginning when Jonathan Pryce (Pope Francis) is speaking in a different language, it completely sounds like someone else’s voice being dubbed over his, which felt very strange. This happened a couple times, almost as if Pryce learned some of the foreign languages spoken in the film but not enough for the parts that were very dialogue heavy. There was also a shot near the very end of the film that would have been the perfect shot to end on (it involves a candle) but then the film kept going which isn’t a huge deal but felt like a squandered opportunity. As for this film’s virtues, the acting is very strong and I can see why our two lead actors were nominated by the Academy. There were some really strong editing and directorial choices that gave what could have been a straightforward, vanilla film, some flavor and pizzazz. The true story behind this film is also one that has never been told on film before and had some fascinating moments. The chemistry between Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce was fantastic, whether they were disagreeing over religious policies or drinking wine while playing the piano together. The film seems to be Team Francis and as someone who is Team Benedict, the film actually made me like Pope Francis (despite not being a huge fan in real life), which goes to the strength of the film. As someone who is religious, the scenes with the two of them debating religion was fascinating to get two difference perspectives coming from the same Bible. The friendlier scenes, like the final scene, was also pretty heartwarming to see how despite their differences, they developed a genuine friendship. The soundtrack was also unexpected as it included an orchestral version of “Dancing Queen” by ABBA and an acapella version of “Blackbird” by The Beatles, along with some jazz type music. As much as you’d think that wouldn’t fit with the subject matter that the film deals with, it absolutely does, which showed off some outside the box thinking. Overall, this is a good one time film for the casual viewer but I am sure devout Catholics will get more out of this and it does have some interesting elements working in its favor. For you Catholics out there, you just might be confessing, “Forgive me Father, for I have binged…”

#Pope&Change / #CinematographyByBillPope / #PopelessRomantic / #RomeIsWhereTheHeartIs / #PopeingMechanism / #SweetXVI

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