The Two Popes

The Two Popes ★★★½

The draw of this one is not questions of religion, politics, pride or dogma, but in watching two acting titans existing quietly together in conversation, eating pizza, watching football, talking about The Beatles and Zelah Leander, doing the tango, and acknowledging that even The Pope is human.

Anthony Hopkins is Benedict, Jonathan Pryce Francis. Successive Popes when the elder - unthinkable - renounces his Holy office. Hopkins is the German traditionalist, Pryce the Argentine reformer. The interesting scenes are with them alone, two old men with their sins and regrets, their passions and pleasures.

Less successful are flashbacks to Buenos Aires, and Francis-to-be's path to the priesthood and catastrophic entanglement with the dictators who crippled his country. Juan Minujín is fine as the younger version of Pryce, but I found myself impatient to return to the present day, while completely understanding we needed some measure of the man.

Funnier than it has any right to be, and making some pertinent points on the relevance and nature of the Papacy, The Two Popes stands on the calibre of its script (by Anthony McCarten), direction (by Fernando Meirelles), and delivery by its experienced stars.

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