When Pope Benedict XVI resigned, there was a ripple of disbelief. None had resigned the papacy in 700 years. There was concern that he was being forced out due to his traditional and hardline stances. That his health was failing, or worse yet, his mind.
Enter Jorge Bergoglio, a Cardinal from South America who was concerned with the poor and reforming the church. Bergoglio had commanded a few votes at the previous papal election, and he and Benedict disagreed on almost everything, but ultimately it was Bergoglio who would next be elected and made Pope Francis.
The Two Popes retells the story of Bergoglio’s life, as he tells it to Pope Benedict in the year leading up to Benedict’s resignation. It’s a charming movie, with more than a few good laughs and two master thespians playing off one another for nearly two hours. In other words: you should definitely see it.
Bergoglio’s story, from priest to pope, is not always a pleasant one. Jonathan Pryce narrates us through the good times and the bad, from his calling to the priesthood that left a lover out in the cold to being embroiled in some of the bad times in Argentinas history, through his refocussing on the poor and progressive viewpoints.
All this while Anthony Hopkins listens intently as Benedict, asking questions and making comments that lead to many of the films funnier moments. While Pryce’s Bergoglio is expectedly humble, the movie portrays Benedict with a level of personal insight and wit that I personally did not expect.
I can’t speak to the story’s veracity, but it’s well told and well acted by Pryce and Hopkins both. One of the great joys of film watching is when you can sit back and watch two master thespians work together and play off one another, and this is definitely one of those times.
The Two Popes, which ultimately is just about two old men telling each other stories in a series of ornate rooms, is fun and funny and totally worth your time.
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