The Two Popes ★★★½

The Two Popes is surprisingly lively and entertaining for a movie that is essentially about two old men talking. Even for someone like me whose overall opinion of the Catholic Church as an institution leans towards disinterest at best and suspicious hostility at worst, the film is an interesting look at the issues that separate and unite these two men, the more traditional Joseph Ratzinger AKA Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and the comparatively progressive Jesuit and future Pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), as they navigate a crucial moment in the future of the church and in their respective lives. It does feel like a film made to appeal to Catholics of all stripes as a call to compromise, but one shouldn't really expect a film to tackle the church's role in any topics of social substance when its writer has as bland a filmography as Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour).

The warmth and humour of the two lead performances, especially Pryce's, plays a part in the film's watchability. But it is primarily the kinetic visual presentation of longtime Brazilian filmmaking duo, director Fernando Meirelles and DP César Charlone (City of God, The Constant Gardener), aided by Fernando Stutz's editing and Saverio Sammali's production design, that had me enjoying the film more than I expected to.