Now Streaming: THE TWO POPES Jockey For Position

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
Now Streaming: THE TWO POPES Jockey For Position

Of all the papal chapels in all the world, you walk into mine.

The Two Popes
The film will begin streaming on Netflix as of Friday, September 20.

"All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl," according to Jean-Luc Godard. The modern-day equivalent might be, ' All you need for a movie on Netflix is two great actors.'

As masterfully written by Anthony McCarten and superbly enacted by Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes largely consists of imagined private conversations several years ago between then-current Pope Benedict (Hopkins) and then-future Pope Francis (Pryce). There are gun(s), glimpsed in archival news footage, as well as girl(s), relegated to minor appearances, but neither are the point of the movie.

No, this movie is about men who devoted nearly their entire adult lives to a particular faith shared by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. That each followed a different interpretation of their personal faith is what makes for conflict and disagreement between them, one sticking to a more conservative, traditional outlook, while the other tends to a more liberal interpretation of what is needed and should be encouraged.

That each is played by an extraordinary actor is what makes the film of even greater fascination for fans of independent cinema. (For purposes of this article, I'll set aside the debate about whether Netflix, which produced the film, is a major Hollywood studio or not. It's certainly the only production company / distributor that seems like it would be willing to finance, produce and distribute a film such as this.)

Academy Award nominee Anthony McCarten has established an enviable track record recently in adapting real-life stories into big-screen dramas (e.g., The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody). Here, the idea of spending two hours in the company of two men debating issues that are assumedly of greatest interest to those adhering to the Roman Catholic faith is made far more palatable by the structure of the piece. When it doesn't sing, the dialogue can still carry a tune.

Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles first came to international attention with the surging, stunning City of God (2002), though I confess that I haven't kept up with his career since then. This film shows that he still can wring the most juice out of a story, as well as making good use of a variety of locations.

The principal reason for watching the film, of course, is to glory in the performances by Pryce and Hopkins. Like all two-handers, it depends entirely upon their ability to embody their characters and let the words spring from their mouths without thinking; they're not acting, they're reacting.

Summing up: Come for Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins. Stay for Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins, conversing and debating and just plain talking like two regular old gentlemen.

Now Streaming covers international and indie genre films and TV shows that are available on legal streaming services.

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Anthony HopkinsFernando MeirellesJonathan PryceNetflix

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