With some films, you have to get through some rough patches before getting to anything worthwhile. When you’re able to, you may come out of it being able to appreciate what you received as a whole. That’s kind of what I went through when sitting through The Two Popes. By the time it finished, I felt sitting through the entire thing was mainly worth it.
In 2012, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) has reached a point of frustration with the church. He’s looking to retire and needs to get permission from his rival Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) to do so. While the Cardinal wants out, the Pope has other plans for his harshest critic that could shake the foundations of the Catholic Church.
The first 30 minutes or so of The Two Popes was hard to get through. During that time period, it was mostly uneventful as we’re just flushed with almost nothing but chitchat. Generally speaking, I prefer movies that understand the importance of keeping busy. I think a lot of people would agree with me on that, so relying too much on conversation could be dangerous.
Once this movie does start moving more, things begin to pick up and get a little more lively. It feels like everything is moving like it’s supposed to as there’s finally some action to get into. Obviously, I’m not talking about fistfights, shootouts, or car chases when I say “action.” Although, that might be an interesting movie with two popes in the middle of everything.
Anyway, I just mean that it just gets more active over time. You’ll find that everything starts to move forward once they decide to go backward. By that, I’m speaking specifically of when we’re introduced to the flashback scenes. At this point, things start to happen and we’re not just asked to watch a couple of dudes having a long-winded conversation.
Sure, they go back to these scenes of dialogue, but we also have something with a bit more energy to help balance everything out. Luckily, this part of the movie never goes away completely as it stays with us through a bulk of what we’re watching. This makes all of what we get more palatable as our brains are allowed to work with what’s going on.
The more present-day scenes do catch up eventually and also become good to watch. The banter between the two isn’t weighed down and it’s easier to feel a bond between them that builds over time. In order for The Two Popes to succeed, this type of transformation was needed. Without it, this would be the kind of movie that many would probably get bored with after a while.
With film, you never want to rely solely on people sitting around partaking in various forms of discussion. Of course, talking is fine, but people don’t usually go see a movie to watch a couple of guys talk while there’s very little activity or even camera movement. One way or another, people want to see some form of action.
I don’t know how many people could actually enjoy this as an entire picture. Then again, it’s not the kind of film that many would go see anyway. That’s one reason why it was smart to get this on Netflix as soon as possible rather than giving it a wide release. Watching it at home may be easier for people. That way, you can skip over certain things or not feel like you’ve wasted your money if you stop watching it.
I’d love to say that I enjoyed the whole movie, but I didn’t. What I will say is that it redeems itself quite a bit in my eyes once things get flowing. Doing so turned The Two Popes into a more enjoyable movie than I thought it was going to be based on the early portions of the first act. If you can tolerate those parts, I’d suggest maybe giving this a chance at some point.
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Writer: Anthony McCarten
December 6, 2019 (Limited Theatrical Release)
December 20, 2019 (Netflix)
Film Length: 126 minutes
- Score - 7/107/10