Sean Kelly’s review published on Letterboxd:
As a Catholic, I remember how big a deal it was when Pope Benedict XVI decided to resign from the papacy in 2013, something that hadn’t occurred for a least 700 years. Director Fernando Meirelles and writer Anthony McCarten wisely decide to steer clear of any possible ulterior motives of Pope Benedict resigning in the midst of a sexual abuse cover-up scandal and instead The Two Popes is more about Benedict sizing up Cardinal Bergoglio, the man who had almost beat him for the papacy in 2005. Repeatedly ignoring Bergoglio’s requests that Benedict signs his retirement papers, the two strike up an unlikely friendship over the course of their conversation in Rome.
The Two Popes is a film that is at is best when it just allows Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce to work off each other in the lengthy conversation that makes up the bulk of the film. However, being from South America himself, it seemed that Fernando Meirelles was interested in turning The Two Popes into a more fleshed out biopic for the future Pope Francis. However, the flashbacks featuring Juan Minujín as Jorge Mario Bergoglio in his younger days end up being the weakest element of the film, with me just wanting to get back between the banter between Hopkins and Pryce.
Overall, I will say that you don’t have to be a practicing Catholic to appreciate The Two Popes as a character study of two men debating their opposing ideologies.