THE TWO POPES – A Review by Cynthia Flores
You don’t have to be Catholic or ex-Catholic to see this film. But it helps. The Two Popes is brought to us by the Academy Award-nominated director of 2003’s City of God, Fernando Meirelles. And the script is from three-time Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten. Well, this film may be their ticket to gold at the next Academy Awards, it’s that good.
The Two Popes, inspired by actual events, tells the intimate story of one of the most dramatic transitions of power in the last two thousand years. In 2012, frustrated with the direction of the church, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) travels to meet with his Holiness Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins). The Cardinal is requesting permission to retire from his post and go back to being just a priest at a local parish. Instead of just handing in his resignation for approval, he finds his Holiness facing scandal and self-doubt. The Pope doesn’t sign his request. Instead, the introspective Pope Benedict summons his harshest critic Cardinal Bergoglio to go to Rome with him to reveal a secret that would shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict wants to step down, and he knows that Cardinal Bergoglio would quickly be voted in as his replacement if he did. It would be the first time a Pope left his office before death since the year 1415 when Pope Greggory XII was forced to resign to end the Papal Schism.
Behind Vatican walls, a struggle commences between both tradition and progress, guilt, and forgiveness as these two very different men confront elements from their pasts to find common ground and forge a future for a billion followers around the world.
If this sounds dry or boring, you would be dead wrong. The scriptwriting, together with the intimate way the director chose to capture these two giant men of faith, is spellbinding and moving. You’ll feel like a fly on the wall as these men each struggle to understand what God wants from them and what his flock needs in these modern times. Also, the chemistry between Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins is stunning. They bring these iconic men to life and breathe a sense of humanity into their portrayals of them. This film is a master class in acting off your partner and filling the screen with pure presence.
I give The Two Popes an A+ rating and know it will be on the best of lists for 2019.
Directed by: Fernando Meirelles
Written by: Anthony McCarten
Selig Rating A+
Running Time: 2h 5min
Drama / Biography
Limited Release: December 6th The Magnolia Theater & December 20th Netflix
Starring: Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins, Juan Minujin
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.