We Have a Pope

Metascore
64

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
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  1. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Apr 9, 2012
    60
    As lukewarm as We Have a Pope may be as a piece of filmmaking, Moretti doesn't tread particularly gently into sacred territory. The picture could be more irreverent, but at least it dares to suggest that popes are people too.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
    Apr 3, 2012
    60
    Piccoli in a role that relies on looks, gestures and very few words, does not hit an off note, making him into a silent, everyman figure.
  3. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    Apr 13, 2012
    50
    Piccoli gives the film a depth it perhaps doesn't deserve.
  4. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Apr 5, 2012
    50
    Too gingerly to be persuasive.
  5. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Apr 4, 2012
    50
    It's a shame that a movie about the pope as a man shows such scant fascination with the actual papacy - or with humanity, for that matter.
  6. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Apr 3, 2012
    50
    Until the potent concluding scene, the humor and shallow profundities of We Have a Pope pivot on the cuteness of geriatrics, especially when they're spiking a volleyball in slo-mo.
  7. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    Apr 1, 2012
    50
    The results veer between occasional smiles and outright pretension, with only Piccoli's mastery transcending the material.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Apr 3, 2012
    40
    Nanni Moretti's new film is occasionally amusing, but is also a frustrating and directionless experience.
  9. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Apr 3, 2012
    40
    The satire becomes more scattershot and strangely cuddlesome (didja know sequestered holy men enjoy socializing and playing sports, just like us?), while the usually great Piccoli-saddled with a ridiculously contrived failed-actor backstory-comes off like an unholy mix of Gérard Depardieu and Robin Williams at their sad-puppiest. That's some cinematic blasphemy, Moretti.
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 4
  2. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Dec 5, 2013
    7
    Director Nanni Moretti seems to be conflicted about his feelings regarding the Catholic Church. He has been quoted as saying he’s notDirector Nanni Moretti seems to be conflicted about his feelings regarding the Catholic Church. He has been quoted as saying he’s not religious. Yet after watching Habemus Papum (Latin for We Have a Pope), it is clear that while Moretti wants to poke fun at the mystique created by the Vatican, he also secretly harbors some respect and reverence for His Holiness. Even as Moretti tries to expose the Holy Father for being the human being that he ultimately is, the director keeps his distance, almost as though he is folding his hands and keeping his head bowed while he removes the layers of papal garments with his directorial lenses and tries to reveal the essence of the man behind the facade.

    As the film opens, the masses have congregated in St. Peter’s Square and the smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney is still black, which means the cardinals still have not decided who will be the new pope. In Moretti’s comical version, every cardinal is praying frantically that he will not be chosen, and finally a compromise candidate named Melville is elected. And then something unforeseen and preposterous occurs. The newly elected pope is about to bless “the faithful,” who are awaiting his appearance on the Vatican balcony, when he has a complete nervous breakdown in the wings as he suddenly realizes he has taken on a responsibility he cannot handle.

    During the next few days when the new pope is going crazy, Moretti focuses on the mundane and more human traits of the Vatican officials. As played by Michel Piccoli, the pope is examined by a doctor as he lies in bed showing a pot belly and a hairy chest. While the cardinals remain isolated in their papal conclave, they are shown smoking cigarettes, working on jigsaw puzzles, and taking psychiatric medication at bedtime. They also eat sumptuous meals and enjoy going to the museum to see Caravaggio on exhibit. Moretti plays the psychiatrist who is called in to analyze the troubled Holy Father, but he’s not allowed to ask personal questions about childhood, sex, or dreams, and he must conduct his therapeutic session in front of all the cardinals. He has no effect, and the pope runs away, eventually falling in with an acting troop, which is fitting because the truth is that he was a failed actor, unlike his sister who got accepted to the acting academy. The pope never forgot his disappointment over being rejected; as he falls in with the acting troupe, he lets on that he knows the lines from Chekhov’s Seagull by heart.

    In the end, Moretti’s message is that being the pope requires professional acting skills, and that it is mostly about costumes, lavish sets, theatrical gestures, and good scripts. When the tortured pope finally steps onto the balcony from which he previously fled, he dons the formal gown and the papal hat only to tell the crowds below that he cannot lead them and that he is not their pope. The crowds are heartbroken and devastated because they were aching to believe in him, and so it seems, was Nanni Moretti.
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  2. Mar 9, 2013
    5
    What starts off as a good idea falls apart in the second half. If it's going to be a comedy, then let's make it droll, but all they manage isWhat starts off as a good idea falls apart in the second half. If it's going to be a comedy, then let's make it droll, but all they manage is a dragged out farce made worse with an endless one joke volleyball game. Then they make the pope out to be a dimwit surrounded by a herd of them. Bad writing, ludicrous plot, weak characters. Shame, it could have been good in the right hands. Full Review »
  3. Jan 7, 2013
    3
    I was raised Catholic, so when I sat down to watch We Have a Pope, I suspected the critics who had been lukewarm to this movie just didn't getI was raised Catholic, so when I sat down to watch We Have a Pope, I suspected the critics who had been lukewarm to this movie just didn't get it. Sometimes high hopes lead to poor reactions, and that may be why I found We Have a Pope to be the most disappointing movie I'd seen during 2012. On the whole it wasn't funny enough to be a comedy and neither profound or complexly human enough to be a good drama.

    The basic plot starts with a papal election where it is clear that none of the eligible cardinals really want the job. Then a cardinal who wasn't considered favored is elected. At first he goes along with this, but right before his elevation is announced, he balks. Because the new pope hasn't officially introduced himself to the people, no one else can do it and all of the cardinals must remain shut in the Vatican until he changes his mind.

    All of this is fodder for some hilarious moments or profound statements about faith and human psychology and power. However, We Have a Pope wastes all of these opportunities by shying away from all the difficult questions this situation calls up. The new pope doesn't doubt his faith and never manages to articulate a reason for his refusal more complex than he's not up to the job. The movie meanders along to an ending which is only shocking in that it took two hours to arrive at the place we had been fifteen minutes in. The only bright spot in this slog is an intramural volleyball game between cardinals from different geographic regions. Spoiler: Oceania scores a point!
    Full Review »