This fascinating psychological study will leave you pondering long after its conclusion.
Personally, I have never given much thought to the job description of the “Pope”; realize he has over a billion “employees” with benefits; monumental “infallibility”, as the replacement for Simon/ Peter (first Pope), it is impossible for him to error in matters of Church dogma. This is stress at the celestial level!
“We Have a Pope” is powerfully original; written, directed by (and costarring ) Nanni Moretti (as the psychiatrist aiding the newly elected Pope through a major crisis); it is more tragic than comedic and commands the viewer to empathize with the “man” who has just been elected Pope, by the College of Cardinals, as the voice of God.
“Melville”( profound performance by Michel Piccoli) is immediately overwhelmed with his appointment; he is terrified, dwarfed by what he feels are his inadequacies: there are huge lacunas in his life, unfulfilled desires, quests never sought or tested; a life lived in the protection of the Church. He escapes his “protectors”, mixes with the populace as an ordinary man; his journey, struggle towards enlightenment is genuine, lacking in sentimentality; there is no catastrophic epiphany .
Perfectly structured to combat Melville’s angst you are treated to one of the most heart-warming scenes in recent films; a volleyball game with the Cardinals representing countries in a tournament; the psychiatrist is the referee in this joyous, exhilarating example of “comic relief”; for a brief moment these men of God become boys of sport.
Moretti’s brilliant use of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” as a metaphor for Melville’s dissatisfied, frustrated existence lends a richness to this oddly wonderful film.
Regardless of your religious preference, never again will you be blasé or cavalier, while anticipating the white smoke bellowing from the Vatican chimney announcing, “We Have a Pope”.