The Two Popes (2019) by Fernando Meirelles

‘The Two Popes’ tells the true story of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, and the rare event in papal history where a living Pope renounced his position and allowed a new one to be chosen. The two religious men hold starkly different ideas about the church and its direction. The film follows their conversation as Pope Benedict faces backlash for permitting the priests to get away with child molestation. The conversation in itself is about Pope Francis, then a Cardinal, trying to convince the pope to let him resign and the Pope in turn trying to convince him to stay on as he would like him to partake in the election of the next one. This is a fascinating situation because the two do not see eye to eye at all and yet believe the other is best suited to lead.

Now with that situation explained, I must admit that I found this film largely uninteresting. To compare it to another biopic that follows two remarkable men, ‘Ford vs. Ferrari’, this film lacks gripping characters. There is something highly unrelatable about two old religious men discussing theology. Even though they are human and we explore their humanity, their desire or lack thereof to rule feels too holy and zen. So much so that it borders on the pretentious. Now one could argue that I hold this opinion because I am an atheist, and perhaps that is true. However, I would argue back that Christian mythology has always fascinated me and it is not the religion but the people discussing it that is quite uninteresting. At some point, I fell asleep in my bean bag and when I woke, I did not feel there had been anything that I had missed. This then is the biggest shortcoming of the film. It shows a discussion that is locked in place. It does not evolve or have any repercussions, just more information. It thus fails to keep one interested.

The film is graced by brilliant performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce but even they cannot convince me to recommend this film. Just read up on the event.

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