“The Two Popes” (Netflix)

Jonathan Pryce portrays Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins portrays retired Pope Benedict XVI in a scene from the movie "The Two Popes." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Peter Mountain, courtesy NETFLIX)

By Catholic News Service

Glossy but highly speculative account of a visit to the Vatican by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the future Pope Francis, shortly before the resignation of his predecessor, Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins).

Screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director Fernando Meirelles ill-advisedly try to extol Francis by trashing Benedict, presenting the latter as doddering and detached from the realities of modern life. They counterbalance this somewhat with an extended sequence of flashbacks showing Jesuit Father Bergoglio’s quasi-collaborationist approach to the brutal military regime that came to power in Argentina following a 1976 coup d’etat, a subject about which they seem to imagine that they have acquired a clarity and certainty that has evaded many others.  But when it comes to the two pontificates, their bias is more than apparent.

Fine performances by the leads and high production values do not compensate adequately for a fast and loose version of recent church history.

Themes requiring mature discernment, scenes of violence, a few sexual references, one mild profanity, a single crass term. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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