Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Young Pope

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Paolo Sorrentino, noted Italian auteur of such critically acclaimed fare as This Must Be The Place and last year's Youth, like many film directors has turned to the television medium to tell a greater story where he can tell it over 10 hours instead of the pre-requisite two hours you have in film.

Sorrentino, such a stylish and visual director from his earlier films to the more deliberate methodical dramas such as The Great Beauty, certainly lands on his feet in Rome.

It tells the story of a young (by Pope age) American Cardinal, called Lenny Belardo played by intense broodiness by Jude Law who has been recently appointed the new Pope Pious XIII. When we first meet Lenny he is giving his first public homily to St. Peter's Square - in which quickly becomes a satirical swipe at Catholicism and its blindness to the world with its ever changing notions of acceptable decorum and relationships.

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Lenny then wakes up from his dream, and we are equally flummoxed; are these the actual beliefs of a young Catholic in modern day society, is Sorrentino speaking on behalf of all Catholics or embracing the laissez-faire mentality of current real Pope Francis, who did not question same-sex marriages for instance.

Lenny is introduced to his new cabinet most notably Cardinal Voiello (Silvio Orlando), an Italian whose true love is Napoli FC, who was overlooked for the top job and is eager to rock the boat. Whilst Voiello wants to control Lenny, our new pope is certainly not forthcoming ignoring his suggestions of cabinet positions and inserting as his special advisor, Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) the woman who took him into the orphanage at a very young age and has mentored him to this moment.

Other questionable characters such as fellow American Cardinal Dussolier (Scott Shepherd), who is alluded to like young flesh by foreign speaking Cardinals and Sofia (Cecile de France), the young head of marketing who embraces Lenny's ideal that his image should not adorn any merchandise and he remain invisible to his public. 'Only Jesus is present, I am nothing' as he states.

The difference between this being a run of the mill, behind the scenes drama of a world usually closed off to the public is that Sorrentino has tweaked the role of Lenny somewhat into that as a archetypal figurehead of that other Italian institution, the Mafiosa.

Law plays Lenny as a newly appointed head honcho of a criminal organisation; his way or the highway, he smokes openly, flaunting the line between confessional confidentiality by asking a priest to be his mole by telling him what people think of him in passing prompting a changing of positions in his cabinet swiftly and without remorse. You can sense Law had immense fun playing Lenny; with the ability to spin words to his will and a presence to match his movie matinee idol looks.

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The cleverness of the premise is that this Pope, as played by Law, can run and run if Sorrentino maintains a hold of this vessel. Law is certainly an individual you want to keep watching and the neat twist on him being in question about his faith and the layers he hides despite apparently being without sin demands our attention.

The Young Pope has enjoyed some decent reviews since launching on Sky Atlantic, but in the newly released box-set on DVD and Blu-ray it warrants a rewatch.

The Young Pope is available on DVD and Blu-ray now from Aim Publicity 

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