“The Two Popes” is as special kind of truth-based buddy pic, one where two men of faith — one progressive, one conservative — find common ground as they deal with scandals facing the Catholic Church. The just-released new trailer for the Netflix release starts with Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict flying to Rome accompanied by Jonathan Pryce as the future Pope Francis. When Benedict ask about the plant that the then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is carrying, he explains, “It’s oregano. Your gardener gave it to me.” The pope notes, “You’re very popular.” The cardinal replies, “I just try to be myself.” Bendedict then says, “Whenever I try to be myself, people don’t seem to like me very much.”
While earlier previews have emphasized the often humorous exchanges between the two polar-opposite men, this preview focuses on the serious crisis of faith facing the Church at the time over the cover-up of acts of sexual abuse by men of the cloth.
That sets the tone of a film whose script is by the best biopic writer in the biz these days, Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything,” “Darkest Hours” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”) who adapted his stage play into a movie directed by Fernando Meirelles (“City of God,” “The Constant Gardener”). We next hear a news report about confidential Church documents that were leaked to the press “alleging corruption and misconduct among the clergy.”
Francis says, “I hope this business is not too distressing.” Benedict: “Does a shepherd run away when the wolves appear?” Later on, the cardinal says, “We are moving in directions I can no longer condone.” Meanwhile, it seems Benedict is in crisis mode: “Ive struggled to do what must be done, but I’ve lost.”
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Suddenly we see what appears to be lightning atop the Sistine Chapel. We hear the cardinal say, “Popes can’t resign. If you do this, you will damage the papacy forever.” But Benedict won’t have it, declaring, “I cannot play this role anymore.” It is clear who he is hoping will be his predecessor. As Benedict tells the future pontif, “You are not God. You are only human.”
The film will get a limited release in theaters on November 27 in order to qualify during awards season. “The Two Popes” will be available on the streaming site on December 20.
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