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Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles (City of God, DFF25; The Constant Gardener, DFF28) and screenwriter Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything, Bohemian Rhapsody) join forces with screen lions Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce to deliver an incisive and fascinating account of the transfer of power between Popes Benedict and Francis.
Frustrated with the direction of the Church amid a series of Vatican-shaking scandals in 2012, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pryce) requests permission from Pope Benedict (Hopkins) to retire. Instead, the embattled pontiff summons Bergoglio—to date one of his most vocal critics—to Rome for a top-secret discussion. Behind closed doors begins a struggle between two powerful men who have very different ideas on tradition and progress, corruption and redemption. But as they seek to find common ground for the sake of a billion Catholics around the world, they also share more intimate details of their past regrets and future hopes.
Of course, we have no way of knowing what they actually discussed before Benedict became the first pope in six centuries to resign his post and Bergoglio, now Francis, became the first Latin American pope. But as envisioned by Meirelles and McCarten—and as performed by Hopkins and Pryce—their encounter makes for an eminently intelligent, unexpectedly enjoyable high-stakes drama.