Moretti’s Pope suffers from stress
by Vittoria Scarpa
In a Sistine Chapel accidentally left in the dark, the cardinals convened to elect the new Pope trip and sigh nervously. While outside, in Piazza San Pietro, the faithful with candles in hand and the global media await the white smoke, there is solemnity inside, among the cardinals seized by a manifest terror. The invocation "Lord, I beg you, not me” flutters throughout the room, among worried faces of voters glimpsing at their neighbour’s ballot.
No one wants to be the new Pope, there’s too much responsibility, as well as competition. With this scene, that is simultaneously and evocative, in which the “disobedient” cardinals recite their prayers and their "Not me’s" in all the languages of the world, drowning each other out, the drama begins at the centre of the latest film by Nanni Moretti, We Have a Pope [+see also:
interview: Nanni Moretti
film profile]. That of a man of the cloth who, once elected, panics and is incapable of accepting the charge of a billion followers.
Fresh off its selection at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival (the news arrived at the end of the press screening in Italy), We Have a Pope tackles the sense of bewilderment and inadequateness in the face of power, and stars a tired and suffering Michel Piccoli as a sad Pope, and Moretti (more "Moretti-esque" than ever), as the psychotherapist who sets out to cure him.
"It’s hard to say who I identified with,” said the director, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2001 for The Son’s Room [+see also:
film profile], "probably both the psychotherapist and the depressed Pope. A Pope that, not coincidentally, I wanted to shoot in civilian clothes in Rome, taking a bus, going to the theatre”.
The two characters are flanked by a strong group of picturesque priests from all five continents, a melting pot that will come in handy for a volleyball tournament in a Vatican courtyard, refereed by Moretti, in what is destined to become a cult sequence. The priests’ human side is also shown: some smoke, others play Briscola, while others yet yearn for donuts, in a series of biting moments and lines that the director’s fans wlll appreciate.
The film mixes comedy and drama, with scenes of masses and solitude, against a sumptuous production design. The film was shot at Palazzo Farnese (the seat of the French embassy in Rome) and Villa Medici (the French Academy), while the Sistine Chapel and the Sala Regia were reconstructed in the Cinecittà Studios.
Produced for €8m by Sacher Film and Fandango in collaboration with RAI Cinema and in association with Le Pacte, We Have a Pope is being released in Italy on April 15 on 460 screensby 01 Distribution with the collaboration of Sacher Distribuzione.
(Translated from Italian)