The Two Popes ★★★

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce are such class acts. The younger versions of Pryce’s character are so expertly cast and well-acted to boot. It goes without saying that The Two Popes is an engaging watch purely due to its two lead actors but also undeniably due to Pope Francis and Pope Benedict being such massive cultural figures in the 21st century—the magnitude of the subject matter alone does much of the heavy lifting. But the story and direction leaves a lot to be desired; The Two Popes is a biopic which, instead of confronting the hard-hitting challenges of Christianity in the modern-day world, gleefully sidesteps the controversies to indulge in some mildly existential musings from a conservative and liberal angle.

In that regard, The Two Popes offers great banter between Pryce and Hopkins but nothing more of substance. The dialogue is commendable, but the pacing and editing are totally vanilla. There’s also this annoying handheld camera work in every other scene, which made the first half of the film frustrating at points—no clue why they opted to do that.

I can say with high certainty that I don’t expect this film to win anything it’s nominated for. It’s lighthearted fare, easy for family-watching, slightly illuminating of papal processes, but not the least bit revolutionary or challenging. I’d argue it’s still worth checking out just to see two legendary actors going strong at ages 82 and 72 respectively. Wow, Hopkin’s lucidity is quite a marvel.

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