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shootandrun Written by shootandrun
Apr. 4, 2012 | 12:32 PM
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WE HAVE A POPE (HABEMUS PAPEM)

We Have a Pope


WE HAVE A POPE (HABEMUS PAPEM) By Chris Hume

The Pope has died. And the Vatican cloisters itself away, to elect a new pontiff. But the man the cardinals have chosen, to lead one billion people – doesn’t want the job.


Italian actor/writer /director Nanni Moretti brings a strikingly original yet universal story to the screen in “We Have a Pope”. It’s a timeless tale of a decent, ordinary man suddenly elevated to heights very few could ever handle. Actor Michel Piccoli plays Melville, the timid but likeable cardinal who gets thrust into the limelight. When called upon to reveal himself on the “balcony” as the new pope, he freaks – and runs back to his room, paralyzed with anxiety. And the world holds its collective breath.


Eventually the Vatican hierarchy hires a psychoanalyst to try and “cure” him. Played by Moretti himself, he brings a comical, secular counterpoint to the rigid piety of the church. And of course, once he is inside, they won’t let him out (due to the arcane rules of the conclave) until the Pope officially greets the world.


A shrink trapped in the Vatican. A Pope with stage fright. I found myself thinking why hasn’t anyone made this story before? Most of us can relate to panic, doubt, and the fear of failure. Moretti paints this tale with such warm humorous strokes, we both pity and admire the man who wouldn’t be Pope.


And then there’s the stunning backdrop.

Moretti invites us into the hermetically sealed chambers of the Vatican Conclave. Solemn, crimson robed men file through ancient corridors. But in lovely contrast to the opulence and intrigue, Moretti shows us, with a grin, that this “college of cardinals” is no more that a group of earthly men, who enjoy powdered doughnuts, gambling, cigarettes and volleyball. In fact, none of them want to be elected Pope. We actually “hear” them all praying to themselves to “not” be the one. It must be a hellish job.


There are many layers to “We Have a Pope”. Melville sheds his papal robes, puts on a black overcoat, “loses” his handlers and goes on a “walkabout” through Rome. He explores his own inner demons, while riding buses and strolling through parks. He is the everyman, and that’s why we love him. Because he turns his weakness into strength. I cannot spoil the ending to this film. But if you have ever had a panic attack, or just wanted to hide under your blanket for a day, this is a film you will take to heart, and remember for a long time.


“WE HAVE A POPE” EXCLUSIVELY AT THE LANDMARK IN WEST LOS ANGELES ON APRIL 6; ORANGE COUNTY ON APRIL 13




First Comment:

  1. I enjoyed the writing style here of the review;
    laying out the story to a point is good. However, as I too have seen this film, I would like to have read a little more info on the other areas of the cinematic quality of the film.

    Posted by Florence Ren Figueroa on 04/05 at 10:17 AM

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