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We Have a Pope (Habemus Papam)

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Michel Piccoli joins Moretti's 'Pope'

Italo multihyphenate Nanni Moretti has anointed Gallic superstar Michel Piccoli, 83, to play an angst-ridden contempo pontiff for his upcoming comedy "We Have a Pope."

Piccoli will play a cardinal who gets the jitters after he is elected pope. Moretti, as previously announced, will play the papal psychiatrist.

Variety, December 16

Edited by SDG

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Anyone seen this yet? Heard anything? It's coming to Nottingham soon.

Details here

Matt

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Anyone seen this yet? Heard anything? It's coming to Nottingham soon.

Details here

Matt

Saw it at TIFF and was kind of disappointed. Review here.

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IMDB says We Have A Pope is getting a limited US release in April.

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Michel Piccoli joins Moretti's 'Pope'

Italo multihyphenate Nanni Moretti has anointed Gallic superstar Michel Piccoli, 83, to play an angst-ridden contempo pontiff for his upcoming comedy "We Have a Pope."

Piccoli will play a cardinal who gets the jitters after he is elected pope.

Celestine VI, I assume. (Papacy joke.)

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Saw this last night and I'm still processing my thoughts. I think I liked it better last night than I do this morning. There is some stuff there I resonate with, but I think the execution of the story was wanting. It made me want to watch Saving Grace again.

A question for those who've seen it concerning the ending.

Do you take his speech at the end to be an abdication? He never says he will not do the job, only that he can't. That he isn't the leader the people need. When he hopes God will forgive him for what he is going to do, I think has some ambivalence. Forgive him for quitting or forgive him for being a bad pope?

Edited by Darrel Manson

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Saw this last night and I'm still processing my thoughts. I think I liked it better last night than I do this morning. There is some stuff there I resonate with, but I think the execution of the story was wanting. It made me want to watch Saving Grace again.

A question for those who've seen it concerning the ending.

Do you take his speech at the end to be an abdication? He never says he will not do the job, only that he can't. That he isn't the leader the people need. When he hopes God will forgive him for what he is going to do, I think has some ambivalence. Forgive him for quitting or forgive him for being a bad pope?

If he isn't abdicating (or refusing, I guess), then Moretti completely and totally, no ifs ands or buts, bollixed it up. If he's not refusing, you don't immediately fade to black, The End. If he's going to accept despite his ambivalence, the last line needs to be something like "I cannot, but God can" (this is, in fact, something like the Church's teaching on holy offices, and why I was tickled by early montage of "please not me" voiceover thoughts). If the forgiveness is for being a bad pope, you have to not-leave the impression he's not gonna be pope at all (and that is, though I would say the only defensible reading, the first impression and unquestionably *A* plausible take). And, most of all, you don't spend the entire back half of the movie (that part that follows him, at least) putting doubts in his head about his vocation, how he missed his "real" calling as an actor, and finally experiences the superiority of "ordinary life" etc.

I also think you're overstating the ambivalence of "can't" distinguished from "won't." I'd need to hear the Italian to be sure and there's the eternal problem of imperfect subtitles, but "can't," freestanding and untethered from a construction like "can't do X well," also DOES means "refuse to." Sure, it carries an implication more like "refuse because it's beyond my powers," while "won't" has a more willful register. But it DOES mean "refuse."

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I have to admit that that is my reading as well. Just curious if the alternative was also A plausible reading.

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My review

Basically, I liked Melville's struggle, but the whole comedy with the shrink and the Cardinals just didn't work.

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My review and 60-second review.

Nice review, Darrell. FWIW, I liked the idea of Melville's struggle ... it was the absence of any creative or psychological insight beyond "I have a struggle" that turned me off.

In a way it’s like the antithesis of a Dan Brown novel. Brown’s stories peer with feverish, lurid imagination at the inner workings of the Catholic hierarchy, discovering all manner of ridiculous subterfuge, ruthlessness and skulduggery. Moretti’s film hardly peers at all. It’s good-natured and inoffensive, regarding the cardinals with gentle amusement. But there’s no complexity or ambiguity, no depth or insight. ...

It’s impossible not to feel empathy for the plight of the hapless cardinal catapulted into a position of incalculable responsibility for which he feels wholly inadequate. Yet as his initial panic fades and his paralysis stretches to minutes, hours, days and weeks, it becomes equally impossible not to feel increasingly frustrated with the new pope’s apparent lack of empathy for the plight into which his mulish immobility has plunged his colleagues, the throngs of pilgrims stranded in St. Peter’s Square, and the entire Catholic world. ...

Melville’s faith is wholly theoretical, along with every other character (not counting the anonymous throngs in St. Peter’s Square). Those “Not me” prayers are the only signs of prayer we see from any of the cardinals: They’re never seen saying or attending Mass, or praying their daily office. (We do see the AWOL pope listening to a homily at a weekday Mass — the only congregant, apparently.) No one prays during the conclave for guidance regarding the selection of the successor to Peter, or for God’s will to be done. Contemplating their votes, they look more like schoolboys enduring a difficult test than princes of the Church fulfilling a sacred trust. ...

If the pope doesn’t question his faith, it’s because he doesn’t question anything. His whole world seems made up of self-evident, unassailable, brute facts: I’m the pope. God called me. I can’t do it. I need more time. I’ve always loved theater. I’m tired. Piccoli brings as much warmth and sympathy as possible to what eventually becomes, in spite of his efforts, an off-putting character.

Melville’s insistence that he needs more time is unconflicted by any sense of urgency for the plight of the world. He does seem troubled by the crowds in St. Peter’s Square, but is unmoved to action, or even to awareness that he ought to act. Although he meets with nothing but kindness from strangers on the streets of Rome, he has startling outbursts of anger.

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I liked the film a little more than Steve, but not much. From my tweets back in September:

HABEMUS PAPAM (Moretti, Italy, 2011, 5) But that's a generous grade. PAPAM starts out wonderfully as the Catholic-Nerd Comedy of my dreams and Moretti shows he could've made a great screwball comedy by staying inside St. Peter's (parody of Vatican press corps had me in stitches). But once Piccoli as pope-elect escapes Vatican, the comic creativity dries up and the few good ideas (the volleyball toonamint) overstay their welcome. The last scene, in particular, flirts with blasphemy, isn't consistent with second-last scene, and is the wrong ending for what never was more than a (sometimes first-rate admittedly) featherweight comedy. You don't flip the switch from Stephen Colbert to Bunuel in one moment. If the film had already been a frontal attack on Catholicism, I could at least respect the ending artistically, but the very fact PAPAM hadn't been such a film (or even a very deep film about one man's crisis of faith) makes the ending gratuitous, discordant.

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"We Have a Pope" can be viewed on Instant Netflix or on YouTube. I just watched it. It's light-hearted and serious, ironical and compassionate, with a touch of the surreal and prophetic.

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Welcome, ewn.

I'm okay with most of your adjectives, though I'm not sure "surreal" or "prophetic" really apply. I don't remember anything particularly dreamlike, and "prophetic," to this Bible student, entails a message of some sort that I don't think this film has.

Cheers!

P.S. Why did I not properly embed my 60-second review? Or has the embed protocol changed AGAIN?

Also, a blog post on what happens in this film — and what should happen — in the event of a papal panic attack that shows no sign of abating.

Edited by SDG

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