Fernando Meirelles' character study of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis is often fascinating and, though perhaps a half hour too long, features towering performances from two noted thespians. Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce make for a formidable pair, breathing life into the story of a little-known friendship that was at the centre of one of the defining moments in the Catholic Church's recent history.
It's no surprise that Pryce is garnering awards season buzz, given Anthony McCarten's screenplay is predominantly focused on his character's rise to eminence. His performance elicits great empathy with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a man who has lived a colourful and often complex life. Hopkins is of course dependably excellent, bringing his usual gravitas to the role of Pope Benedict and providing an excellent, opposites-attract type of foil to his more progressive and eccentric opposite number. Meirelles provides some lovely aesthetic nods which really imbue the spiritual tone of the film, particularly those that are focused on the controversial period of Bergoglio's career.
As said, there are perhaps some moments that could have been shaved but this is, all in all, a worthwhile film that gives a welcome platform to two fabulous talents.