Writer|Dir: Paolo Sorrentino, DoP: Luca Bigazzi | Cast: Jude Law (Pope Pius XIII Lenny Belardo), Diane Keaton (Sister Mary);, Silvio Orlando (Cardinal Angelo Voiello); Chloe Sevigny (Ether); Cecile de France (Sofia), Javier Camarra (The Rt Rev Monsignor Bernardo Gutierrez); Scott Shepherd (Cardinal Andrew Dussolier).
The most gorgeous bauble on the Christmas tree this year is THE YOUNG POPE. Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino’s most triumphant imagining so far sees Jude Law as Pope Pius XIII, born Lenny Belardo in a children’s home and brought up by Diane Keaton’s Sister Mary, an American nun an private secretary is also responsible for the religious education of the Pope, along with his childhood friend Cardinal Andrew Dussolier (Scott Shepherd).
Starting as a hard-line pontiff, but gradually morphing into a more sympathetic and liberal, Lenny Belardo is somewhat of an ingenue in all areas of life but he is quick to learn and Law endows him with an innate sense of ‘street cred’ which eventually sees him appearing on the Papal balcony like an ecumenical superstar spouting the kind of silvered soundbites that his believers really want to hear: “We have forgotten to masturbate; we have forgotten to be happy”. This is a Pope who is buffed and beautifully accoutred, drinks cherry coke for breakfast and has a fag (of the cigarette kind) in moments of severe stress. Paolo Sorrentino’s creation is fun and flirty, but also pithy and highly-satirical, served up on a plushly padded velvet cushion of hushed and lush tones, thanks to the drowsy staccato legato electronic score by award winning composer Lele Marchitelli and sumptuously photographed by ace DoP Luca Bigazzi (The Great Beauty). Cleverly scripted for US the market, its wit and intelligence will leave you breathless and dazzle even the most exacting audience: dumbed down it ain’t.
After banishing a cardinal who openly admits he is gay (due to Catholic inconsistencies) Pius emerges as a deeply human leader who grapples with his own parental issues, his own feelings about sex and God. He grows close to Cardinal Gutierrez (the wonderfully cast Javier Camara) and closer to Dussolier who both offer their advice and support on homosexuality. As while Sister Mary is despatched on a mission to help children in Africa, Pius heads off on the road to Venice to retrace his own roots and his parents.
Since premiering at Venice Film Festival, the series has gone directly onto HBO courtesy of Sony Studios, but is here to enjoy on Bluray, as a seamless continuum, or in 12 hour-long episodes . THE YOUNG POPE is an inspired re-imagining of the papacy has the same tongue in cheek charm as Nanni Moretti’s Habemus Papam and is laced with furtively dark undertones that is beguiling to the final denouement, There is an awe and majesty to its assured and intriguingly subversive narrative. Full of exquisite vignettes delivered by Diane Keaton as Sister Mary; Cecile de France as the scarlet- lipped tousled haired marketing maven and a tour de force by Silvio Orlando as Cardinal Voiello. MT
THE YOUNG POPE | UK DVD, BLURAY AND DIGITAL RELEASE 26 DECEMBER 2016