Enough to restore your faith
“I don’t have any sins to confess,” 47-year-old conservative American pope Pius XIII, formerly Lenny Belardo (Jude Law), tells a discreetly astonished priest. “My conscience does not accuse me of anything.” And that seems to be true: a cigarette-smoking, cherry soda-drinking go-getter, Belardo became the youngest (and first American) pope ever only because his mentor, cardinal and former archbishop of New York Michael Spencer (James Cromwell, the farmer in Babe), misjudged the power play that should have elevated him to the papacy.
Yet as cunning as he at first comes across comes, he’s about to face, with trusted assistant Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), both holy office politics at the highest level and his own internal demons. The is The Young Pope, the singular new series from film director Paolo Sorrentino, whose cinematic successes include Il Divo and the best foreign language Oscar-winning The Great The Young Pope Beauty. An immensely talented visual stylist, Sorrentino prefers to work with the same cinematographer and editor on all his projects. Thus two of the stars here are the ravishing photography of Luca Bigazzi (the interior Vatican sets were built at Rome’s legendary Cinecitta studios) and the stately yet subtly disorienting editing of Cristiano Travaglioli.
Originally a 10-episode limited series (which took almost three years to make), The Young Pope was such a success in some markets (including Britain, Ireland and, of course, Italy) that a second season has been commissioned. The Young Pope has been called the Boardwalk Empire of the Vatican but in truth is a much more original and hypnotic experience, and proof, as if it were needed at this point, that some of the best work in film is happening on television. Wednesday, 10.25pm, SBS
Jude Law and Diane Keaton in Paolo Sorrentino’s