Jul. 11, 2012 - Issue #873: The Big Cover-Up
We Have a Pope
Yet Nanni Moretti's We Have A Pope (Habemus Papam) seems to rap the faith lightly. The conceit's out of The Sopranos—the psychoanalyst is in where s/he's least expected. Professor Brezzi (Moretti) is summoned to the Vatican by spokesman Marcin Rajski (Jerzy Stuhr) after Cardinal Melville's (Michel Piccoli) been surprisingly elected as Pope, but had a panic attack, unable to come to the balcony and address the gathered crowd. Even as Melville slips away from his handlers and wanders through Rome, Brezzi and the cardinals while away their time in Vatican City, unable to leave until the man assumes his heavy new burden.
At first, the film sticks, rather charmingly, to Moretti's quietly humorous, observational style: Brezzi advising a cardinal on sleep-medicine, a Vatican volleyball tournament, Melville grabbing a pastry while casually sharing with one of the bakers his latest therapist's diagnosis: "I have a parental deficit." Brezzi, meanwhile, becomes more boyishly enthusiastic as he tries to boost the spirits of the serious old men around him.
But the film gradually mixes in more melancholy. The faith's leader becomes a wayward soul. Hanging around the cast of a Chekhov play, Melville ruefully notes that each has a role they've embraced. And the television news blurs with the expectant crowd beneath that balcony—both the watching media and watching masses merge into one faithful audience of unquestioning followers.
To its great credit, just before the credits, We Have A Pope slips away from its droll dramedy and offers a sharp anticlimax—a pointed stab at Catholicism now. First comes a scene of quiet yet brutal bullying. Then the Church is shown to be lost and bewildered, without clear direction and a sense of the Pope as anything more than a theatrical figurehead. The declaration of its title turns out to be the emptiest statement of all.
Fri, Jul 13 – Thu, Jul 19
Directed by Nanni Moretti
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
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