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The Two Popes Review: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce's Film is Heartwarming and Hilarious

By: Antara Kashyap


Last Updated: December 22, 2019, 12:22 IST

credits -  The Two Popes instagram

credits - The Two Popes instagram

Fernando Meirelles’ Netflix film The Two Popes featuring the brilliant Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce brings the shocking tale of Pope Benedict’s resignation to celluloid.

The Two Popes
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Bryce
Director: Fernando Meirelles

In the current political scenario of the world, it feels impossible to get along with someone if they do not think on the same lines as you do. Especially when it involves scandals and misuse of power by a higher authority. Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles' new film The Two Popes is about that, how two people from different political ideologies winning over each other with conversations and a lot of mutual respect for one another.

The film tells us about the shocking resignation of Pope Benedict XVI's, played by Anthony Hopkins in 2013 and how Pope Frances (Jonathan Pryce) became the first leader ever from Southern America. The film begins after the death of Pope John Paul in 2015 and elaborately shows the process of appointing a successor. The German conservative Cardinal Benedict becomes the Pope, narrowly beating Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina, who is more liberal in his approach. Early on in the film, a sense of hostility from Benedict's end to his Argentine colleague is evident.

But things start to change after the Catholic Church and the Vatican is shaken by one scandal after the other and the upset Cardinal Bergoglio wants to resign. He is then summoned to the Vatican, a part of the film probably reimagined by the filmmaker and by writer Anthony McCarten. The meeting between Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio, where the former rejects his resignation, is one of the most refreshing takes on politics, religion, and ideologies one has seen in recent times. Refreshing conversations laced with wit makes the film becomes heartening and hilarious at the same time. The two men bantering with each other appears to be a beautifully choreographed sequence which brings out their mutual respect for each other despite their differences.

Pope Benedict is not very fond of the things the liberal Cardinal stands for, and his ‘liberalness' has been depicted in the film very subtly but effectively. Be it his love for football, his flair for tango or his very acceptance of homosexuality – that Bergoglio is different from the rest is established very early on in the film. And the Pope understands that too, he gets that it is okay to let go of traditions and to move on with the times, even when you are one of the most powerful people in the world.

Bergoglio, on the other hand, a man who has ‘sinned' in the past by being on the wrong side of the history – a silent spectator in the Argentinean ruthless military rule, showed in cool-toned flashback sequences. These sequences make the film a little darker, but work very well as a social commentary on what is going on in many parts of the world. We see how old age and loneliness gets to the most powerful. But never does the film get preachy. The filmmaker crafts it so skilfully that it never becomes a tearjerker.

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce give a splendid performance. The chemistry between them is genuine and it is so much in sync all throughout that it feels like a buddy film. In a scene where they are watching the football World Cup final between Germany and Argentina kind of gives an insight into the unlikely but everlasting friendship. Together they are nothing short of adorable.

The film banks on some of the most intelligent writing and all the buzz it has been generating around the award season is totally worth it. It is amazing how The Two Popes is so much more than it was promised in the trailer and even though the story is known, you never cease to enjoy a minute of the film. It is that kind of a film where you randomly remember a scene from it and start smiling to yourself even months after watching it.

Rating – 4.5/5