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February 13, 2017
By Rachel Chung, Vernon Hills
Disclaimer: To say I’m an amateur in reviews of movies or shows is the understatement of the year. I’m not the most knowledgeable or well-versed in film references. I’m really bad with understanding cinematographic choices, and there are a lot of people who would appreciate. Honestly, my tastes are quite mainstream, but I decided to try to write a review due to my intrigue in the show’s plot and in Jude Law. If anything, you can at least be amused by my truly honest review.
The Young Pope has been greatly anticipated by many, and the media has played a part in hyping up this HBO original series. The show is about the first fictional American pope, Lenny Belardo turned Pope Pius XIII, who is played by Jude Law. He ascends to rule as pope when the older cardinals decide that they need a fresh new pope that could be easily controlled. Despite his young age, he is not easily manipulated as he acts in any way that he wants to, whether that be being rude to his household staff or solely relying on a nun that raised him, Sister Mary played by Diane Keaton. He’s an inexperienced, conservative leader that relishes in using fear to rule and is an all around unapologetic eccentric.
I can’t claim to know about the genius of Paolo Sorrentino’s film work, but I did think it was very nicely shot. It sounds stupid, but it was a show that was very easy on the eyes. It was beautiful and simple, and I really enjoyed watching everything.
First off, I was laughing at the pope’s rude behavior. He’s so composed, and you can tell that Law is really one with this role. His character is just so outrageous. Right off from the morning of his first day as pope, he isn’t nervous and doesn’t care about making a “good” first impression. Instead, he berates the elderly head chef for being too “friendly” and is a diva about having his Cherry Coke Zero, his preferred breakfast. It automatically gives you a sense of who is this guy and what is he going to be like actually ruling as the pope?
You continue on to watch and see the various inner workings of the Vatican. It was really interesting seeing all of this in a very modern light. While learning about the papacy and corrupt popes in European History, you don’t really find yourself wondering what the popes are like in modern times. However, this offers an insight into the world of cardinals, nuns, priests, and the pope in a surprisingly interesting way.
As the story goes on, you see the relationship between Sister Mary and the pope. Sister Mary was the only parental figure in Lenny’s life, and you see that he seems to have experienced a lot of struggles with having no mother or father. However, she plays an important role in trying to get Lenny to discard his demons to take on the full responsibility of his role as leader of the Church. And as you see him taking time for her arrival, preparing for her stay, and appointing her as his special assistant, you can see how important she is to him.
With Lenny’s first day as Pope Pius XIII comes many different responsibilities and tasks. However, Lenny is so adamant in his orders and doing things the way he wants to, and there are so many “Oh, snap” moments between him and the Cardinal Voiello, the very cardinal that got Lenny appointed as pope and is labeled as the Holy Spirit due to the great amount of control he has over affairs in the Vatican. His utter lack of regard for tradition and conventional manners is seen time and time again, and you can see the distaste on both of their faces as Lenny quietly defies Voiello.
Lenny’s sense of humor, I find, is hilarious. He resolutely does not laugh at jokes to be polite, but he makes many at the expense of others. His facial expressions are just so funny as he often looks bored, amused, or pained at having to converse with various cardinals. He is just always so composed; it’s great to watch.
Seeing the power struggle between Voiello and Lenny is honestly half the reason I’ll continue watching the show. It’s so obvious that Voiello expected an easy puppet, but that sure as heck is not what he got. It’s constantly a push and pull of one upping each other and using their positions to claim superiority. They both are on a battle to gain knowledge and know the most about the secrets of the Vatican, as knowledge is power. That’s one thing that they absolutely agree on.
Throughout the show, Lenny says things that sheds light on an interesting concept, his struggle in believing God. He says things like how he doesn’t believe God is there anymore, and he doesn’t believe God will save him. Although we can never be quite sure if he is being serious or not, it’s an interesting concept and what first drew me to the show; the pope believing he has a destiny to be the servant of God and have others serve him, yet he fears that God has abandoned him. It all is something that I truly find interesting and what will keep me to continue watching The Young Pope.
Overall, my thoughts are that if you like Jude Law, like nice filming, like good acting, and are able to watch a mostly actionless plot, then you should give The Young Pope a chance. It’s not exactly a thriller, but it’s an interesting show. And if anything, it’s certainly a show to have on your radar as there is quite a lot of buzz around it.
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