The Two Popes Review By Myla Tosatto
With The Two Popes, Netflix continues their trend of releasing movies to limited release in order to qualify for awards season. They have had great luck with Roma (the BEST luck), Mudbound, 13 the and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. You might not have seen any of these films at the movie house, but I bet you a million bucks you saw them advertised all over Netflix. Expect nothing less of The Two Popes. Netflix will be trying this strategy in 2019 with Marriage Story, Dolemite is My Name, and The Irishman as well.
The Two Popes will certainly bring some well deserved award noms, especially with the two leads Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict. Both actors completely capture the men that they portray. Through private conversations, we learn much about the titular Popes. Audiences discover Pope Francis’ compassionate more liberal side while remembering Pope Benedict’s much more conservative leanings. The story of their companionship is written by Anthony McCarten from his play (another nomination likely here for Adapted Screenplay). He captures their relationship in often funny dialogue that deals with worldly and personal issues. The strengths of Hopkins and Pryce bring this quiet movie to life.
The movie is really nothing more than the Popes speaking, yet it is captivating. It will be released in time for the holidays so it will be perfect counter programming to inane Christmas movies and motion stop holiday cartoons you have seen a million times. It will make a great movie to settle in for after getting your house back from guests, Santa, and the crazy holiday season in general. Sit back and savor two fine actors giving great performances. Be entertained and illuminated at the same time! The men’s failings are shown, but mostly the two popes are shown in a good light. The argument could be made that that’s okay since it’s a movie and not a documentary or a doctoral thesis. There are many other movies about scandal in the church. This isn’t one of them.