In the years leading up to his abdication, the hard-core traditionalist Pope Benedict (a superb Anthony Hopkins) apparently struck up an unlikely friendship with the fiery reformer and progressive future Pope Francis (an even better Jonathan Pryce) at a time when the Catholic Church was facing unprecedented controversy.
Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’s (The Constant Gardener, The City of God, Blindness) perhaps apocryphal look inside the Vatican walls is intimate, honest, human-scale, unostentatious, frequently very funny and quite moving (even to a crusty old atheist like me).
It shouldn’t work, but it does thanks to an extraordinary script that simply sparkles, blending weighty issues with entirely believable comic bits, and for the pure joy of watching these two seasoned actors at the top of their game play off each other. It may not be the first adjective you’d hit on to describe two such eminences, but they’re adorable. Now streaming on Netflix. (125 min)