Recently, I attended the Singapore International Film Festival and secured a press pass which allowed me to see five films for free. One of these films was "The Two Popes", a film that not only bored me to death but almost put me to sleep. It's based on the true story of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis with the majority of the film taking place over the weekend that the two popes spend together. What follows are long and drawn out conversations, unneeded flashbacks and humour that would make you roll your eyes but make you 48-year-old uncle laugh until it hurts.
My main issue with the film is just how mediocre it is, there was almost nothing on a creative level that stood out to me. The lighting and color grading is bland and in-expressive, and this ruins what potentially could be a great visual aesthetic. Everything looked so flat and uninspired and only makes the experience even more tiresome. The film is only two hours but it felt like I was in the cinema for a month due to its incredibly messy pacing. If the film were to remove the 20-minute flashback sequence as well as a couple of pointless conversations that essentially repeat what was said two scenes, the film would flow much better and would be much tighter. The overall direction from Fernando Meirelles is nothing unique with everything feeling very lifeless and artificial which is incredibly ironic when you consider Mierelles also directed the extremely energetic "City Of God" which some claim is one of the best pieces of realist cinema.
The script, in my opinion, is also fairly mediocre, every joke felt the same and the message and social commentary lacked any nuance or subtlety, everything is extremely in your face and obvious. However, the film isn't all terrible both Jonathon Pryce and Anthony Hopkins do a great job and they have great chemistry with each other. Pryce, in particular, is excellent and I do feel he is deserving of a nomination. In addition to this, the set design was really good and the only other aspect that felt real. Sadly, this is where my praise ends.
Overall "The Two Popes" is an incredibly boring film that honestly put me to sleep, while it's not the worst film I've seen all year and nothing about it is insultingly bad, as a whole, the film is just so mediocre and average that I was very close to napping in the seat. Sadly, I can see this film doing well in awards season as this is the type of Oscar bait I can see the old award voters, as well as 50-70-year-olds worldwide, eating this mediocre mess up.