We Have a Pope is a journey into the mind of a man who is suddenly entrusted to lead a flock of one billion people.
As Kickass prophesied with no power comes no responsibility and when Michel Piccoli must become the new Pope he fears he isn’t up to the job. With the white smoke already diffusing into the Italian air the people are anxious to see their new shepherd and when it becomes clear he is nowhere to be seen and with the conclave sequestered in the Vatican fear begins to set in.
Not to worry however as nothing untoward has happened, Il Portavoce played excellently by Jerzy Stuhr in an effort to help the Pope overcome his fears takes him to a psychologist and promptly looses him. The Pope wanders about Rome trying to understand what first made him become a priest and falls for his first love; theatre. These scenes are quite touching and give us an insight that at the end of the day there is a human being underneath the white hat.
The director Nanni Moretti puts in an appearance as the best psychologist in the country and when unable to help the Pope he is house bound leaving him to find some fun amongst the Cardinals. This lead to the most farcical scene of the film, a volleyball tournament between the different continents. Now the film comes nowhere near Dan Brown Angels and Demons territory but these moments do take away from the central message of the film that the Catholic church is without leadership and strength in it’s darkest hour.
You can’t help but be reminded of Jesus as the film plays out , how must he have coped with all that lay before him and the film tries to tap into that human element of the church institution. I haven’t seen Il Caimano which is meant to be Moretti’s scathing attack on Berlusconi which is why it would seem people are unhappy that We Have a Pope is not as harsh. It is true with all the recent sex abuse cases, Ireland having more than it’s fair share, that a more damning film could have emerged but for me the resulting film is much more powerful in it’s subtly. The final scene speaking volumes about the state of the Catholic church today.
Nanni Moretti / Nanni Moretti & Francesco Piccolo / Starring: Michel Piccoli, Jerzy Stuhr & Renato Scarpa / 102 min / Drama / Release: 2 December 2011 (Irl/UK) / Country: Italy, France