The Two Popes (2019) A Review

I put this one off for a few weeks, as Religious dramas didn’t really seen like my thing. But the stellar leading men in this biography won me over eventually.


DIRECTOR:  Fernando Meirelles

STARRING:  Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce, and Juan Minujín

SCREENPLAY:  Anthony McCarten

GENRE:  Biography, Drama

RUNTIME:  125 Minutes

★★★★ 3.5 Stars 

Reading the plot for this film will get very few people excited. A story of two popes, to me, doesn’t sound all that appealing either. And unless you are a member of the faith, or have an interest in religious history, I doubt it will grab your attention either.  But as a lover of Biopics, I loved this film a lot.

The story focuses on two men, the conservative Pope Benedict and the much more liberal future Pope Francis.  They have had their differences over the years, but now they are trying to reconcile in order to find a way to forge a more accepting road for the Catholic Church.

The first thing that struck me about this film is how beautiful it was.  The cinematography was breath taking.  Long shots of rolling Italian hills, beautiful architecture and the reverence shown to the holy spaces in the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel in particular were spectacular.  But with the material they were working with, it would be hard to make a film that wasn’t visually astounding, considering that the settings of the film include some of the most beautiful places on earth.  A few scenes in my opinion were a little overexposed, but I am unsure if this was meant to be used as a device to imply the holiness of the films subjects, so this may have been intentional.

Both leading men give stunning performances in this film. But it is Jonathan Pryce that steals the show for me.  Whether this is because his character was more disposed to emotion and therefore, had a greater opportunity to showcase his acting ability is an argument for another day, but his performance in this film shone brighter than anyone else’s, and in my opinion, he out did Hopkins by quite a yard stick. 

The film is told is such a way that made even the unpromising plot of this film becomes gripping and entertaining.  There is a great mix of humour here as well as dramatic story telling.  My favourite part being the two men enjoying Pizza in the Vatican, a sight I never thought I would see. 

Don’t let the heavy sounding subject put you off.  This film is actually very enjoyable.  I can’t speak to its historical value or accuracy, but as a source of information and entertainment, it passes much muster.The Two Popes is available on Netflix UK now.

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