Friday, April 13, 2012

Movie with Abe: We Have a Pope

We Have a Pope
Directed by Nanni Moretti
Released April 6, 2012

The old tradition of saying “The King is dead! The King is dead! Long live the King!” has always conjured up a strange image, the notion of mourning one leader but moving on immediately to celebrating the newly-elected ruler. It’s a bizarre yet necessary custom, as places and institutions cannot be without a head figure for long, lest they fall apart. In “We Have a Pope,” the leader of the Catholic world has died, and the papal conclave must come together to choose a new leader to represent the Church and to give comfort and spiritual solace to all the faithful.

“We Have a Pope” is an energetic film that begins with a somber ceremony and the proceeding of all the cardinals into the conclave, to be shut off from society until they determine who the next Pope will be. Names emerge as they are called out during each of the voting rounds, and after a few unsuccessful votes, a definitive victor emerges. The look of joy – and relief – on the faces of all of the cardinals as they realize they now have someone new to look to is palpable, and it’s a dramatic process full of emotion and passion.

Since this cannot be a simple story, the newly-elected pope (Michel Piccoli) becomes incredibly overwhelmed by his newfound duties and panics, prompting the announcement of his identity to be postponed. A therapist (the film’s director Nanni Moretti) is brought in to help draw out the issues behind the pope’s feelings, and subsequently sequestered so that he cannot reveal anything about the pope’s antics to the public. When the pope is taken to an outside psychiatrist, he makes a run for it and disappears, prompting the therapist to take matters into his own hands and create a massive cardinal volleyball tournament while the pope explores what he’s been missing in the world.

“We Have a Pope” is a deeply endearing, highly entertaining film with a charming protagonist in way over his head. Moretti casts himself in a crucial role, providing humor and a much-needed sense of logic, distracting all of the cardinals and permitting them the rare opportunity to let loose. The film is gorgeously photographed and the costumes are carefully prepared. Ultimately, however, it’s about the captivating, pleasant story of the one of the most important men in the world wrestling with doubt, unsure of whether he has what it takes to fulfill what has been asked of him.


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