Nanni Moretti‘s Habemus Papam, which screened this morning at 8:30 am, is about a newly-chosen Pope (Michel Piccoli) feeling overwhelmed and depressed and unable to pick up the sceptre. The tone is basically one of dry, highly restrained farce. Moretti told a journalist earlier this year that it “contains a painful core but [is] wrapped in a light tone.” That about says it. It’s simultaneously gentle and whimsical and melancholy, and a bit silly.

I suppose Habemus Papam will be seen in some Roman Catholic circles as a impudent tweaking of the lore of Vatican City, etc. But it didn’t strike me as nearly caustic or judgmental enough.

Piccoli is playing an old man who’s not only depressed but a little bit stupid, trembling and confused and enduring much stress and confusion in simply trying to explain what and who he is, and why he feels so exhausted, etc. I don’t care if some depressives act like this — it’s boring and frustrating to watch.

And yet the 85 year-old Piccoli gives a touching performance. I’ll give him and Moretti and the film that. But otherwise I was underwhelmed. I’ve since gotten the sense that I wasn’t alone.