Review: Netflix’s ‘The Two Popes’ Actually Holds a Prayer

Screen Shot 2020-01-03 at 1.03.41 PMNetflix’s new movie ‘The Two Popes‘ is an  interesting film in that it takes the discussion of faith  in to major arena. Is it a great theological lifting film? No.  It is a discussion invoking one though.

 The Two Popes explores the issues of the Catholic Church  from the perspectives of, as the title implies, two popes: Pope Benedict XVI and his successor the current Pope Francis

The film is based on actual events.  Pope Benedict and the forward thinking  Pope Francis  forge a historic new path for the Catholic Church. After requesting to retire, future-pope Cardinal Bergoglio is summoned to the Vatican where Pope Benedict reveals a secret that threatens the church’s future, and the two must grapple with tradition, progress, the problematic past and of course each other.

It has excellent cinematography. It has wonderful acting.  I felt cheated, that  in my opinion,  it falls short in the fact that while it dives in to Pope Francis ‘s past , it neglects Pope Benedict’s past. That is my great criticism. I loved the fact that it showed Bergoglio’s life  as a Jesuit leading his order and dealing with the trials and tribulations of real life.  I loved that it showed a sense of imperfection and humanity.  I think we tend to  look at the papacy as a mini heaven with the Pope as some invincible Archangel. That’s far from the truth.

The film touches on various issues, including scandals surrounding the Catholic Church. It does not go far in examining the issues, and those who wish to understand them better might be disappointed. The film’s strength is the acting. Anthony Hopkins plays a stunningly believable Pope Benedict and Jonathan Pryce is spot n as Pope Francis. Some of the conversations in the film  unfold nicely, allowing viewers to go deep into some theological matters. There are a few scenes that as a seasoned Roman Catholic  I was quite taken with. They both are connected to sacramental life and will strike a coward with those of us who are practicing life longs.

Is it earth shattering in theology? No. Does it fall short on storylines?  Yes. I feel the writers owe us a deeper dive on Pope Benedict. I fell his story time on screen was a bit stilted and did not lend to the depth that was given Pope Francis. I am sure we will get one as the film has been a success in the streaming world.  Should you watch it? Yes. I think it is time well spent.

Am I aware of all the criticism of the film? Yes.  Do I understand  it? Yes. Do I agree? Yes. I disagree on the fact that  for the first foray into this realm this was more than decent.


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