Even though it’s really just a popularity contest, the process of selecting a new pope is always fraught with drama. The smoke signals, the secret votes, the fabulous gowns—it’s practically a reality show already. Rather than going big with one of the biggest traditions in religion, Italian export We Have a Pope transforms one of the most grandiose traditions of the Catholic Church into an intense personal narrative.
Michel Piccoli stars as a newly elected pope who suffers from a nervous breakdown when faced with the prospect of being introduced to the world as, you know, The Pope.
As His Holiness is ferried to a therapist, the general public eagerly waits for the will of God to be shown to them, and all the bishops and cardinals sit, sequestered, inside the Vatican, desperate to discover if they’ve made a terrible mistake.
We Have a Pope walks a delicate line between reverence and irreverence; the church isn’t a vile nest of insidious conspiracy theories, and neither is it the literal hand of God on earth. Instead, it’s an organization full of humans who worry and try to do their best. (They also, charmingly, play volleyball very badly.) It all builds to an unforgettable, tense climax; you’ll never care more about a pope’s inner life.