We Have a Pope


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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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Apr 5, 2012
    Mr. Moretti finds broad comedy in the antics of some clerics, who can seem as sweet as children, but in Melville there is pathos and there is tragedy, and not his alone.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    May 3, 2012
    By turns sweet, sad, funny and poignant, We Have a Pope is the story of a man who doesn't want to be God's representative on Earth.
  3. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    May 3, 2012
    It's more of a character study, insightful and nuanced, about a man grappling with a profound sense of inadequacy, questioning himself. In many ways, We Have a Pope recalls last year's Oscar winner, "The King's Speech": Someone who doesn't feel up to the job fate has handed him, and then struggling to come to terms with it.
  4. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Apr 25, 2012
    There are elements of comedy here, and some very low-key slapstick, but the film is respectful to the Catholic Church and the papacy and takes no cheap shots.
  5. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Apr 6, 2012
    We Have a Pope is not the filmmaker's next assault on a Roman patriarch. It's a half-sweet, half-rueful existential drama in which the satire comes secondary.
  6. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Apr 5, 2012
    Meticulous staging and Piccoli's world-weary presence balance any silliness, making the issues here feel relevant and real. The method is not pointed political satire but gentle enlightenment.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    May 11, 2012
    This is rich material that Moretti mines for both superficial absurdity and deep pathos.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 6, 2012
    The wonderful Polish actor Jerzy Stuhr plays the harried papal spokesman. It's a marvelous movie until the halfway point, when it unaccountably devolves into silliness.
  9. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Apr 26, 2012
    Beneath the surface lies a carefully considered argument about the irrelevance of organized religion in modern society. Though skeptical, the film isn't at all mean-spirited: Moretti takes such pleasure in living that the impulse to consecrate it seems absurd.
  10. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Apr 2, 2012
    What really grips the new movie, for all its amused glances at Swiss Guards and ceremonial pomp, is the prospect of a single soul in crisis. [9 April 2012, p.85]
  11. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Apr 1, 2012
    Nanni Moretti's tender, funny and timely Vatican romp entertains, but lacks the director's customary bite.
  12. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    May 3, 2012
    The film wastes itself on silliness and scattered threads before very long, truly squandering a brilliant promise.
  13. 63
    If only Moretti had had the faith in his story and its gentle, organic comedy, and done away with the forced silliness.
  14. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Apr 12, 2012
    Whenever it stays with Piccoli, though, it's mysterious and moving, struck by the humility of a man who's not up to playing God.
  15. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Apr 6, 2012
    Overall We Have a Pope should prove a crowd-pleaser. Sacred music by the great Estonian composer is a plus.
  16. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Apr 1, 2012
    Nanni Moretti's latest is a mixed bag that too often settles for easy, superficial laughs.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 4
  2. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Dec 5, 2013
    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.
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 9, 2013
    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
    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 »