Brazilian helmsman Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardner) fussily stages a pontiff buddy dramatic comedy with its share of zooms and close-ups that stands out like The Good Liar in letting its esteemed performers Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce go at it in its best moments.
The Two Popes (multilingual with subtitles) has Hopkins and Pryce as the latest heads of the Vatican, a harsh, conservative Pope Benedict XVI and a contemporary, compassionate Pope.
The scenario set up by Darkest Hour and Bohemian Rhapsody scribe Anthony McCarten has the two meeting prior to Benedict’s 2013 surprising retirement amidst widespread allegations of a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse (see Doubt or Spotlight on rolling strands of this subject matter).
A chamber drama feeling like a two header that underlines sacrifice, compromise, and forgiveness has Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Pryce) heading to the Vatican to submit his resignation to Pope Benedict (German-bred Joseph Ratzinger). A fine opportunity to have quite the discussion as opinions on Catholicism range a bit between them.
Lonely bullish, yet crafty is Benedict as Hopkins employs his plummy Welch qualities in a serious leader nonplussed by Bergoglio’s unassuming lighter side with a fondness for being arrogant and watching “football” (read soccer).
From the knowledge of such an office an unlikely relationship in this fictionalized account has certain uncanny appeal at times as accents are affected and Latin is spoken. But, this showcase probably won’t be remembered for what is participants are saying. Recollections account for more on the side of Bergoglio when it came to his involvement in the 1970s. It would clearly have an effect on his more radical, if less flamboyant ways in a contemporary reign.
Not the same when it comes to Ratzinger whose formative years arguably included time in the Hitler Youth Organization ultimately having to cope with backlash of Nazi loyalties. So the most accessible tow-man show in its broadest sense as if aims to engage like a documentary and cinematically, it’s in the company of stalwarts who come to an understanding even though unsteady invocations.