We Have a Pope

We Have a Pope

Original title: Habemus Papam
Language: Italian
Translation: Bulgarian subtitles
Genre: Drama
Italy/France 2011, 101'
Directed by: Nanni Moretti
Writer credits: Nanni Moretti, Francesco Piccolo
Cast: Michel Piccoli, Jerzy Stuhr, Renato Scarpa
Nanni Moretti, the great Italian satirist, turns his endlessly creative mind to the inner work­ings of the Vatican in his sparkling and at times sobering new fable, Habemus Papam. The title refers to the election of a new Pope, and Moretti imagines the various backstage machinations entailed in this highly confi­dential process. The result is a magnificent blend of high-concept humour with a deeply affecting portrait of a man elected to an office that carries crushing responsibilities.

If Moretti finds a succession of lighthearted moments in the very human process of nam­ing a new Pope — after all, his film is about a group of cardinals choosing one of their own for the position — the mood turns with the immortal Latin words Habemus Papam: “We have a Pope.” The man they’ve chosen, Cardinal Melville, was not the front-runner and never expected to be offered the position. Petrified by the enormity of the role, he turns away from addressing the faith­ful in St. Peter’s Square, effectively rejecting the papacy. The Vatican’s spokesman finds himself drawing on all his ingenuity to solve the ensuing crisis. He calls in a respected psychiatrist, played by Moretti, to find out what is ailing the new Pope. Is it just nerves or something much more serious? As the world nervously waits outside, inside the therapist tries to find a solution. But Cardinal Melville is adamant: he does not want the job, or at least needs time to think it over. What follows is a marvelous insight into the concept of a human being existing behind the title of God’s representative on Earth. Moretti has always been able to balance a fine sense of irony and humour with a deep and abiding humanism, and these qualities are evident in abundance in Habemus Papam. He is ably assisted by Piccoli’s sensitive portrait of a man caught in a conundrum both exis­tential and political. And yet, amid these weighty reflections, comedy keeps bubbling to the surface.


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