6 July 2012 | olivo-southdown-it
Imperfect but deep and perceptive
This film has had a very diverse range of reviews, and this is probably because its full appreciation requires a finger on the pulse of the Catholic world.
Moretti makes a statement about the current state of the Church, which behind its omnipotent facade seems to be unable to truly face the challenges of remaining relevant to its followers. Rather than set up an intricate political plot of intrigue and betrayal, Moretti chooses to represent this powerlessness through a single person, an unassuming cardinal who feels unable to take on the responsibility. At the same time, though, he reveals that the state of unease is widespread among the cardinals, who dread the thought of having to take on this leadership, as much as the thought of losing their leader.
A banal way forward would have been for the cardinals to turn against each other, or against the Pope; instead, here they find relief in reverting to games and simple everyday activities, as if the isolation inside the Vatican walls is lifting an unbearable oppression from them, as they can do normal things as normal people do.
The film has several imperfections, and one feels sometimes the story gets somewhat contorted, especially when the new Pope rekindles his old love for the theatre. Still, it is a visually attractive film, sensitively scripted and well acted.
This is a surprisingly sympathetic film made by a non-believer who is often critical of the Church. Moretti is appreciative of the magnitude of the problem faced by the church, but most of all one has the impression that he cares deeply about the people involved: those on the balcony, those behind the curtains and especially those down below, in the square.