SAVFF REVIEW — “The Two Popes”
A classic crowd-pleasing catholic romp!
The Two Popes is directed by Fernando Meirelles, written by Anthony McCarten, and stars Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. It tells a story set behind the Vatican walls, where Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church. Next in our series of SCAD Savannah Film Festival is the action-packed religious epic, The Two Popes! I had some pretty positive buzz around this and I’m a big fan of Meirelles previous work, but I would be lying if I said I was super excited to see this. While the story of two Popes sitting down and discussing the politics of the Catholic Church sounds riveting, it didn’t look like my cup of tea. So, you can only imagine my surprise when I ended up loving it. The Two Popes is a surprisingly hilarious, enthralling and genuinely touching story of a truly extraordinary friendship.
Fernando Meirelles direction here is sublime. He immediately establishes a lively and almost whimsical tone for the film and it makes for one of the most fun and entertaining watches of the year. This movie is a miracle. The fact that this is so entertaining and so funny is jaw-dropping. I never thought in my entire life I would see a genuinely hilarious and moving film about the inner workings of the Catholic Church but here we are folks. Meirelles also presents the story in a way that even those who aren’t religious in any manner can enjoy it. The Two Popes is not a film about religion, it’s a film about friendship. A friendship between two men who widely disagree about everything, and despite that, they’re able to connect and relate to each other. Anthony McCarten’s script is touching and insightful, and for a film about two elderly men, a surprisingly timely one. It’s also equally hilarious. This is seriously one of the funniest films of the year. It was laughing out loud consistently. It’s a really wonderful and special script, and McCarten deserves all the praise in the world.
The cast does an expectedly wonderful job. Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce are pros at this point and deliver equally genuine and nuanced performances. Each Pope is developed wonderfully and the film spends a great deal of time humanizing them and making them feel like real people. A Pope can often seem a bit disconnected from reality, but here we see them as normal people. We see them flawed humans who have deep regrets, humble ambitions, and an appetite for pizza. The supporting cast all does a great job as well and there are a few wonderful side characters. On a technical level, The Two Popes is a very energetic ride. The cinematography is lively and always moving. They’re able to create some genuinely visceral and exciting sequences, and also some touching and intimate sequences between these two men. The score is used very effectively and the editing is sharp and full of character. In short, The Two Popes is one of the most surprising films of the year. It’s a hilarious, thoughtful and genuinely touching film with two great performances from its leads. 5/5