The Two Popes is a marvellously scripted piece of cinema, featuring two actors at their emotional and empathetic best

Almost as if it were a multi-Doctor episode of Doctor Who, The Two Popes is a marvellously scripted piece of cinema, featuring two actors at their emotional and empathetic best, allowing all manner of passion and pride to enhance their performances, crashing against each other as waves of sheer force. 

Newly elected Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) refuses to accept one of his greatest opponents resignation as Cardinal when he is thrust into a scandal where his closest aide has been sent to prison. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) is called upon to travel to Rome, planning to attain a personal signature for his resignation, meeting Benedict in his summer residence where he seems at odds with himself.

The Two Popes

It is this scene, where both men wander the gardens, that The Two Pope’s brilliance truly comes to light. The contrast of their opinions, on a religion seen for centuries as having just one way of working, arrives in the form of progressive and genuinely powerful dialogue. It’s the sort of enthralling conversation often reserved for theatre, with Director Fernando Meirelles turning it into cinematic viewing, with the help of two incredibly renowned actors. Both Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins have an affinity for the classic ‘thespian’ style of working, but for The Two Popes, that works as an incredibly modern analysis of the events that led up to Benedict XVI’s resignation.

Outside of the debate between Pryce and Hopkins, The Two Popes tells the story of Begoglio’s life in a tumultuous Buenos Aires, an area of his life it exposes particularly well, but fails to fully manifest as a dramatisation in its own right. It feels like an added section of the film,merely there for backdrop; whilst the meeting between the two Popes is the real reason for the film’s creation. Hopkins and Pryce absolutely raise the piece to its highest level, so expecting any other section to match their brilliance would be silly, in hindsight.

The Two Popes is ironically a tale of two stories, one imposing over the other, becoming the embodiment of the Two Pope’s actual conversation. But, that works, in an odd way, and despite the strong weight towards the dialogue heavy scenes between the two men, The Two Popes plays as a fascinating feature, and in essence, that’s really what actually matters.

4/5

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