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  • Gareth Crook

The Two Popes (2019)

You could write what I know about the Catholic Church on the back of a stamp. I mean really know, I get the basics but that’s it. I do get the corruption, the shall we say less than liberal views on homosexuality, abortion etc. and maybe that skews my view, but I really didn’t know what to expect here. I love both Pryce and Hopkins in the lead roles, but perhaps I anticipated something stuffy, formal, a little infuriating. This is a political drama more than anything else and seems quite timely. The Two Popes pitting against one another, the conservative Ratzinger (Hopkins) and the liberal Bergoglio (Pryce). Except Bergoglio doesn’t want a fight, he’s nobel, headstrong sure, but delicate and earnest in his beliefs that the church has become insulated. Ratzinger is portrayed as frail, gnarled, looking to appoint blame and keep the status quo as he sees it, the all powerful unquestionable church, 2000 years of tradition to be protected. What unfolds is a two hour sparring match, Bergoglio trying to find common ground, ease tension, Ratzinger putting up walls. Ratzinger is a show off and somewhat uncultured or out of touch at the very least, stubborn... and lonely. Bergoglio, a man of the people, personable and friendly. I’ve no clue whether these portrayals are accurate, to be honest I don’t care all that much, but I still found this much more interesting and captivating than I expected. This is largely down to Pryce who is magnetic on screen and to a slightly lesser extent Hopkins, who brings more to the role than is evident at first. A story that begins as damning look at the institution, but ends in hope, with both characters opening up in quite unexpected ways. Like I say I know little of the church really and I’m not sure how much this educated me, but it’s pretty electric stuff, a revelation you might say.



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