Joe and Jorge’s Excellent Adventure: “The Two Popes”
Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ City of God (2002) was not, despite the title, a religious film, but a gritty, semi-documentary drama about kids in Rio’s slums. Mr. Meirelles’ new film, The Two Popes, is also not religious.
The film claims to be “inspired by true events,” which at its heart is a lie, and it clearly doesn’t understand what’s going on in this mysterious thing called the Roman Catholic Church. Or if it does know, dislikes it intensely.
Written by Anthony McCarten, screenwriter of two very fine (and very different) films, Darkest Hour and Bohemian Rhapsody, The Two Popes imagines a 2012 meeting between Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) and Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins). The cardinal has been summoned by the pope ostensibly to discuss the former’s resignation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. As it happens, before receiving the pope’s summons, the cardinal had already bought a plane ticket to Rome in order to urge Benedict to accept that resignation. Kismet?
Pope Benedict is well aware that Bergoglio finished second in the 2005 conclave voting that had elevated him to the papacy, and therein lies the gambit: the pope really wants to discover what sort of man his likely successor is and what effect a Papa Bergoglio might have on the legacy of Benedict’s papacy.