We Have a Pope (Habemus Papam)

Directed By: Nanni Moretti

Starring: Michel Piccoli and Nanni Moretti

Being a leader is hard work.  How many people have shied away from opportunities to lead a student organization, a neighborhood association, or some committee at work?  Stepping up to the plate can be tough stuff, and often none of us want to do it in the midst of our already stressful lives.  You know you've avoided something like this at some point in your life.  Hell, I certainly have...on more occasions than I care to count.  Evading leadership roles are a little harder though when you actually get elected to be a leader, but the pope has no problem doing so in Nanni Moretti's We Have a Pope.

When the previous pope passes away, the conclave gathers in the Vatican to elect its new leader.  There's only one problem.  Nobody wants the job.  All the cardinals pray vigorously to not be elected.  After several failed attempts, they elect an unlikely candidate, Cardinal Melville (Michel Piccoli).  He reluctantly accepts the role as the pontiff and the responsibilities associated with it.  However, he chickens out of making the public announcement of his election and has a nervous breakdown.  He believes he can't do this. 

With the pope now reclusive and unresponsive and the public completely in the dark on what's happening inside the Vatican, the cardinals decide to consult with professional help.  They hire a psychoanalyst (Nanni Moretti) to help his holiness come to terms with his responsibilities.  Because of the confines of the church however, he can't do his job, so he recommends that the pope is taken to his wife (Margherita Buy), another psychoanalyst.  The psychoanalyst recommends that the pope gets treated without disclosing to her that he is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.  The papal spokesman (Jerzy Stuhr) decides to take the psychoanalyst's advice and sneak the pope out of the Vatican to get him the help he needs.  There's just one problem.  The pope escapes and is now out roaming through Rome on his own.

We Have a Pope is a cute, charming little comedy.  It's a refreshing take on the burden of the papacy and the loneliness of leadership.  The movie is well acted, smartly written, and consistently funny.  Several standouts in the film include Michel Piccoli's pope, Nanni Moretti's psychoanalyst, and Gianluca Gobbi's Swiss Guard.  They all deliver big laughs in this fun, wholesome comedy.

I have only one issue with We Have a Pope.  The ending is a bit abrupt.  Even though I have an idea of the madness that would occur after the pope's monumental announcement, it would have still been nice to have actually seen it.  Director Nanni Moretti could have written a lot of great stuff in the aftermath of the pope's speech.  That's a gold mine for comedy.  As it stands, the ending feels somewhat forced.  It's like ending a party too soon.  I had a good time, but it could have been better.

I normally don't like to mix the church and the bar.  It just feels dirty.  I can make an exception though for We Have a Pope, which gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a couple of glasses of frascati with this one.  Jesus had no problems with a little wine, so I'm sure He'll be cool with this.