Koimoi Recommends The Two Popes: Raise your voice if you are a fan of scripts that have two well-edged characters talking to each other bringing you an intriguing conversation (actually don’t raise your voice, this is a written piece and you are in public maybe). What if I tell you the two characters are inspired by real-life Popes? Today in Koimoi Recommendations Friday, we recommend you the Oscar 2020 nominated film The Two Popes. A semi-fictionalized story of the friendship between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and how they escalated from being cold shoulders to thickest of the friends.
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Language: Primarily English
Available on: Netflix
A famous phrase once used in the New York Magazine read, “Saw your smoke, now you’re the Pope, congrats!”. The Two Popes is the explanation of the same phrase. We are welcomed at the coronation of Pope Benedict XVI. An election is been held with two candidates Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio (future Pope Francis) leading leaving behind a good number of others.
As time passes the Pope witnesses many things. When the Church is in question and the pillar is in danger Pope Benedict decides to resign from the position of the Pope, which is shocking since a Pope is relieved from his duties only post-death. This is the time when he decides to call Bergoglio who himself is willing to step down, but is clueless he will only step higher. What it leads to is two highest men in the catholic hierarchy indulging in banter that is all synonyms of engaging, amazing and intellectual.
The Pope culture has always been whatever we have seen covered in the shiny red velvet curtains of Vatican. Two Popes take us deep inside the fortress that has been on our lists of curiosity for a long time.
What the Two Popes excel in is the brilliant writing that the film achieves. Writer Anthony McCartney builds a narrative around two strikingly different personalities with a different approach towards the Vatican sitting in the same room. While Pope Benedict XVI enjoys all the luxuries of the fortress and the goodwill that it brings, Cardinal Bergoglio (future Pope Francis) never endorses the vanity and luxury that comes with the power.
Cardinal Bergoglio played by Jonathan Pryce is instantly likeable. He is a Cardinal who loves football, is comfortable is a suit than the uniform, wears old shoes, eats pizza. Strikingly opposite is Pope Benedict played by Anthony Hopkins. The whitest of the clothes with the intricate jewels and a command that looks impressive. Both the actors get into the skin of their characters to an extent where even their accents sound organic.
The 2017 release Spotlight shed light on how many Priests from various churches were involved in child abuse and the aftereffect of it. The Two Popes has both discussing the same keeping their respective stands. This is important. We see Bergoglio talking about Argentina’s military dictatorship and how his mistake still haunts it. The makers here know that there is no running away from these mentions as almost everyone who keeps a track of the Vatican knows about them, because of which they cleverly take a subtle approach in mentioning those.
What highlights the film is the bond the two create, they take digs at each other, have disagreements, debated but the best quality is they never forget to show respect towards each other.
In a scene by the end, a fun-loving Cardinal Bergoglio teaches Pope Benedict tango amidst his staff. The chemistry there touched my heart. The journey between a formal hug at the beginning to arm in arm tango is worth the while. Also for someone with OCD leading to an eye for detail, I love the production design. Though the makers did not get the permission to shoot in the real chapel, they created sets and they are marvellous.
The Two Popes is about a bond between two men, men who are the pillars of one of the biggest religions. It’s handled responsibly, lovingly and with the correct amount of humour.
Wait for the moments where Pope Benedict tries to crack unsuccessful jokes and covers it saying “ it’s a German Joke, it doesn’t have to be funny.”
We recommend The Two Popes, for it is about a bond that one needs to know about. It is also an education for the ones who are clueless about this culture. Watch till the end and do not miss the real footage of the two popes and adore the cuteness of their friendship.
Do not forget to share with us your thoughts about the film in the comments section below.