I only know Moretti from a couple of cute shorts in different anthology projects. This could’ve been another cute short – I expected something weightier, but it had little to say about the Pope, Vatican, religion, just an occasionally funny little story about an elected pope who disappears, spends some time on his own, and returns to proclaim that he can’t accept the job.
Michel Piccoli (in two of the movies I anxiously want to see from this year’s Cannes festival) is the confused pope and Jerzy Stuhr (star of Kieslowski’s Camera Buff) is a large-faced official spokeman who tries to take care of the situation. Moretti himself plays a psychiatrist hired to visit the vatican and help the new pope, but when the pope escapes (covered up by Stuhr by having a guard hide in the pope’s quarters, eating expensive food and rattling the curtains to indicate his presence) Moretti has nothing to do and isn’t allowed to leave, so organizes a volleyball tournament, dividing the cardinals by home country – my favorite part of the movie. Piccoli meanwhile visits Moretti’s estranged wife Margherita Buy. You’d expect something to come of this, soon-to-be-divorced psychiatrists each treating the same troubled pope, but no. The movie really amounted to a pleasurable afternoon watching the great Piccoli, nothing more.
The Guardian points out that the movie got mixed reviews from Vatican reviewers, then proceed to give it a mixed review themselves. In competition at Cannes the year Tree of Life won.
Moretti quoted in Indiewire: “People may have wanted me to do something different, but I wanted to surprise them actually. Some people thought I’d denounce some areas of the Vatican but that is why I chose not to do that… I wanted the story to be a surprise.”