Published May 31, 2012Suitable mainly for Sunday afternoon viewing in a retirement home, Nanni Moretti's latest clumsy, narcissistic work of middle-class mediocrity posits itself as a satire of modern Catholicism by demystifying the papal elections and the College of Cardinal electorates. He does so by opening We Have a Pope with a Cardinal face-planting in the dark when the entire gang of cuddly, geriatric (don't forget oppressive and solipsistic) Cardinals from around the world sit around the Sistine Chapel casting votes for their favourite, er, the most qualified new Pope.
They eventually settle on aged pontiff Melville (Michel Piccoli), whose inner-anxieties manifest themselves in a flat-out panic attack moments before the Dean of the College of Cardinals steps out on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican to declare "Habemus Papam," whereby Melville would then deliver his Apostolic blessing.
And again, through broad comedy that pulls punches and avoids any real criticism of the troubles rightfully affecting the Catholic Church, Moretti's blasé work of goofball foibles implies a possible crisis of faith, bringing in an Atheist psychiatrist to chat with the Supreme Pontiff about his childhood and unfulfilled fantasies.
The supposed hilarity stems from the group spectacle of it all as various Cardinals look on, making exaggerated faces when they discover the shrink (unfortunately played by Moretti, who still hasn't learned that he has no on-screen charisma) doesn't believe in winged angels that play harps in heaven for those that spend their Sundays sitting in uncomfortable pews.
What's worse is that once Melville escapes from the Vatican, avoiding recognition, since his identity has yet to be revealed to the media, the provocative implication of religious irrelevance is ignored in favour of Cardinal volleyball tournaments – in slow-mo, no less – and a Pope body-double that eats a lot because he's overweight and vice versa (it's funny because the obese aren't real people).
While this toothless satire might spice up a bridge club function with its saucy insouciance, there is nothing worthy of much thought or consideration. This competent but shallow little diversion does little more than prove that Nanni Moretti most likely makes a better Water Polo player than filmmaker. (eOne)