Fernando Meirelles‘ The Two Popes is an interesting, mildly appealing two-hander as far as it goes. I had serious trouble with the refrigator temps as I watched, but I probably would have felt…well, somewhere between faintly underwhelmed and respectfully attentive even under the best of conditions.
It’s a wise, intelligent, non-preachy examination of conservative vs progressive mindsets (focused on an imagined, drawn-out discussion between Anthony Hopkins‘ Pope Benedict and Jonathan Pryce‘s Pope Francis a few years back) in a rapidly convulsing world, and I could tell from the get-go that Anthony McCarten‘s script is choicely phrased and nicely honed. But I couldn’t feel much arousal. I sat, listened and pondered, but nothing ignited. Well, not much.
Possibly on some level because I’ve never felt the slightest rapport with the Catholic church, and because for the last 20 or 30 years I’ve thought of it in Spotlight terms, for the most part.
I love that Pope Francis (formerly or fundamentally Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina) is a humanist and a humanitarian with simple tastes, and I was delighted when he jerked his hand away when Donald Trump tried to initiate a touchy-flicky thing a couple of years ago. And I’m certainly down with any film in which two senior religious heavyweights discuss the Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby” and Abbey Road, etc.
But it just didn’t seem to amount to that much. For me. Maybe because I’m a lapsed Episcopalian from way back, or maybe because I’ve always considered myself, spiritually speaking, to be an LSD mystic by way of the Bhagavad Gita.
No disrespect to Meirelles, Pryce and Hopkins and the other principals. I just didn’t feel it. Please don’t let this stop you if you’re inclined to give it a shot when it starts streaming on Netflix. It’s fine. Just because a film is good, sturdy and respectable doesn’t mean you’re obliged to sing hosannahs.