The Pope's Toilet Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlione

The Pope's Toilet Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlione
There is a distinct religious ambivalence floating around this sharp allegorical investigation of authoritarian influence on the impoverished that takes aim at prosaic devotional ideals, along with the constant droning of misguided media outlets preaching optimistic garble ignorantly. The titular Pope's toilet represents the hope manufactured by these external influences, which is then crapped on and exploited without regard or understanding of cyclical modes of poverty. This theory proves powerful and moving without feeling laboured or trite, as the film itself moves along with a natural neo-realism that captures a way of life, and the very real, very damaged people within it. Taking place prior to, and during, the 1988 Pope's visit to Melo, Uruguay, a small town on the Brazilian border, The Pope's Toilet explores local excitement and anticipation of this visit, as the expected tourist influx suggests capital gain. While the majority of the local denizens prepare copious amounts of food to sell during the big event, local smuggler Beto (Cesar Troncoso) conceives of a plan to build a washroom on his front lawn, which he will then charge people to use. His wife Carmen (Virginia Mendez) and daughter Silvia (Virginia Ruiz) essentially exculpate themselves from the ordeal, reluctantly allowing their failure of a patriarch to chase his dream. While there is a sense of naturalism throughout the film, shown via ordinary conversations and an unobtrusive handheld aesthetic, every crevice of the film is stuffed with incisive social criticisms and injustice. From military checkpoint officials who exploit the lack of power and influence of the poor to the exaggerative media to the Pope himself, everyone dances around those suffering, unable to identify or engage with any depth greater than what can be found in a fortune cookie. In addition to offering up a meaningful message and superior technical achievements, The Pope's Toilet provides an occasionally comic perspective that humanizes everything, as the townsfolk of Melo still make the most of their situation, despite existing within a vacuum. Included with the DVD are trailers for upcoming Film Movement releases, in addition to the short film Video 3000, which is a fun five-minute animated film from Germany where our protagonist gets a new VCR and discovers a fascinating feature not advertised in the instruction booklet. (Film Movement)