Habemus Papam! (2012) – Italy
Nanni Moretti joins forces with the great French actor Michel Piccoli to tell the story of Melville, a cardinal who suddenly finds himself elected as the next Pope. Never the front runner and completely caught off guard, he panics as he's presented to the faithful in St. Peter's Square. To prevent a world wide crisis, the Vatican's spokesman calls in an unlikely psychiatrist who is neither religious or all that committed, played by Moretti, to find out what is wrong with the new Pope. As the world nervously waits outside, inside the therapist tries to find a solution. But Cardinal Melville is adamant: he does not want the job, or at least needs time to think it over. What follows is a marvelous insight into the concept of a human being existing behind the title of God's representative on Earth. -- (C) IFC
Director: Nanni Moretti
In Italian with Subtitles, No Rating
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Foreign
Official Site: http://www.habemuspapam.it/
Cast: Nanni Moretti, Michel Piccoli, Jerzy Stuhr, Renato Scarpa, Margherita Buy, Franco Graziosi, Cecilia Dazzi, Leonardo Della Bianca, Camillo Milli, Roberto Nobile, Gianluca Gobbi, Manuela Mandracchia, Rossana Mortara, Teco Celio, Roberto De Francesco, Camilla Ridolfi, Lucia Mascino, Ulrich Von Dobschutz, Giovanni Ludeno, Francesco Lagi
4:45 p.m. Habemus Papam! at The Cedar Lee (Cleveland Cinemas), 2163 Lee Road just south of Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights.
Meet at the entrance door 15 minutes ahead of time or look for the group inside the theater. The flick is 108 minutes, so expect to be out around 6:30 p.m. You may also meet us afterward outside under the marque. If you RSVP, we will wait for you. If you do not have a photo posted, you will have to find us.
PARKING: Paid Parking in the rear lot and garage is now 24 X 7, so bring a couple of quarters. Credit cards work in the garage but at times, the line to pay can delay your arrival at the show. Plan on an early arrival. Many members park at a free city parking lot on Edgewood Road at the corner of Cedar, one block west of Lee Road.
6:40 p.m. – Lemon Grass, we’ll meet dinner, drinks & discussion after the film at Lemon Grass a 1 minute walk just south of the theater. Although we’ll request separate checks, it is always best to bring cash to speed up the payment process.
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Habemus Papam! Trailer – (click here)
NPR Review (click here to visit web site)
April 6, 2012
When the College of Cardinals gathers in the Vatican to choose a new church leader — formally the Bishop of Rome — it announces its selection with the Latin phrase "Habemus papam" ("We have a pope").
But suppose that, when a cardinal steps out onto a balcony in St. Peter's Square to utter those fateful words, the gentle soul in white sitting behind him, out of sight of the crowd, develops stage fright.
That's basically what happens in Nanni Moretti's gently humane comedy about a humbled elderly gentleman and the institution his doubts put in crisis. The abilities the cardinals see in him, he doesn't see. So he buries his head in his hands, mutters "I can't do this," and runs down the hall.
A sign of humility? Well, that's how it's spun by the Vatican's spokesman, who describes the new pope as having retired to his chambers for prayer and contemplation. But a psychiatrist is also called — wouldn't you know, a nonbeliever — who's thoroughly intrigued by this assignment, but somewhat hamstrung by instructions that he must not so much as mention dreams, fantasies, parents, childhood or heaven forbid sex. So he cuts to the chase: "Do you want to be pope?"
"I'm already pope," comes the sad reply, "decided by the cardinals, decided by God."
Then comes a more worldly problem. While taking a walk after a psychiatric session, the pope, who has still not been introduced to the world, gets away from his handlers and disappears into the streets of Rome. After a moment of panic, the church's spokesman bids for time. One of the pope's Swiss Guards is quickly installed in the papal apartment, so the cardinals will see his shadow in the window and not worry. Meanwhile, the new pontiff is off somewhere among his flock, incognito, practicing a speech he doesn't want to make.
The great French actor Michel Piccoli is sweetly sympathetic as the man who would not be pope, and director Nanni Moretti has cast himself as the agnostic psychiatrist who kind of enjoys butting heads with cardinals, though not so much being sequestered with them.
Though Moretti's films have ranged from wrenching drama to political satire, he's widely thought of as the Italian Woody Allen, and here he leavens institutional and emotional stress with plenty of smiles — as when that Swiss Guard in the papal apartment cues up a Mercedes Sosa record on the stereo, and soon has the cardinals across the piazza clapping along contentedly and swaying like kids at a concert. The pontiff's mood must have lightened, they figure, as a lyric wafts down that means "Change ... everything changes."
Oddly enough, miles away, the new pope is listening to this same song, but sung by a young woman on a street corner — evidence of God's grace, perhaps. There's nothing in We Have a Pope that's likely to offend, much that will amuse, and also quite a bit of effective design work. It can't have been easy to create such a persuasive Sistine Chapel in a film studio, or to populate it with quite so many exquisitely robed cardinals.
All this production work, mind you, and a few achingly anguished scenes, will suggest that Moretti meant for the film to be more substantial than it mostly feels. Despite moments that strain awfully hard to remind us that the church and its new leader are in crisis, it's basically habemus comoedia.We have a comedy. (Recommended)
Habemus Papam! ("We Have a Pope!") is the announcement given in Latin by the senior Cardinal Deacon (the Cardinal Proto-Deacon) upon the election of a new pope.
The announcement is given from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. After the announcement, the new pope is presented to the people and he gives his first Urbi et Orbi blessing.
The format for the announcement when a cardinal is elected Pope is:
Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum [First Name],
Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem [Last Name],
Qui sibi nomen imposuit [Papal Name].
In English, it reads:
I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The most eminent and most reverend Lord,
Lord [First Name],
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church [Last Name],
Who takes for himself the name of [Papal Name].
Cannes Review: Nanni Moretti’s Habemus Papam! (We Have a Pope!)
by Simon Gallagher
Probably the most controversial film screening at the festival, thanks to the usually virulent reaction that anything that is even remotely anti-religion tends to get these days, Habemus Papam! is director Nanni Moretti‘s latest irony-laced film, which takes a firm stab at the institution of the Vatican (and unsurprisingly has already inspired notable calls to boycott it). This isn’t new territory for Moretti, who follows up 1984′s religious satire The Mass is Ended, with this look at the Vatican’s attempt to elect a new Pope, which remarkably is also the Italian director’s sixth film in Competition at Cannes over the years.
In Habemus Papam!, otherwise known as We have a Pope, we are introduced to the conclave of Vatican Cardinals as they meet to elect the new pontiff from their ranks (a process which hilariously is presented like a group of school children unwillingly sitting for an exam). Panic ensues when the eventually-chosen candidate played by Michel Piccoli (who I swear is Carl Reiner’s long-lost twin), has a major anxiety attack at the responsibility and refuses to present himself to the crowd assembled in St Peter’s Square. In desperation the Vatican turn to a psychoanalyst (Nanni Moretti himself) to try and help the Pope deal with his issues, only for him to go on the run in Rome, posing as a normal civilian to hide from his Godly duty.
Hang on, a major world leader with a psychological crisis? A therapist brought in to help him? So really, it’s sort of like a comic The King’s Speech, only with more full frontal male pope-ness.
As usual, Moretti blends personal questions (this is the first time that he appears to have moved away from an autobiographical approach) with grander political motivation, though he does confirm that there is still an autobiographical element to the film:
“There is something of me in both the character of the psychotherapist and in Melville’s (the Pope’s) feelings of discomfort and inadequacy.”
His witty portrait of various machinations within the Vatican is well-envisaged and well executed: there is little misplaced parody of what must surely have been an easy target, as Moretti prefers instead to poke gentle fun, presenting the Vatican cardinals as a gaggle of occasionally immature and plainly naive men (a condition informed by their isolation it seems), slaves to what Moretti obviously sees as outdated and restrictive system of rituals. And while you might think a film of this nature, and especially one chosen for the main competition at Cannes might be all furrow-browed seriousness, Habemus Papam! is genuinely warm and funny in places.
In truth the majority of the humor comes not from Moretti’s ironic jibes at the Vatican system, but from more traditional roads: they are more effective when he is sticking to simple, universal comic moments, like the Cardinal who sneakily attempts to copy his neighbor during the voting process, or another who gives up a fellow who takes dangerous tranquillizers in order to curry favor with the psychoanalyst who ends up captive within the Vatican with them when the new Pope goes on the run. The jokes would work in any adult situation, but to have these foolish men dressed in their Cardinal costumes makes the joke more absurd, and definitely more effective.
Both Michel Piccoli and Nanni Moretti steal the show in terms of performance – Piccoli’s Pope is a picture of anxiety, and when he flees and is able to interact with real people, and briefly realist his dream of becoming an actor – he shines (even if the script leaves it entirely to the audience’s imagination to guess how exactly he works his way into those situations), and Moretti’s comically frustrated psychoanalyst is just as good. Stripped of his usual techniques, and unable to ask any traditional analytic questions (since they are all either too personal – a la The King’s Speech again – or are in combat with the strict ideologies of the Church), Moretti’s man effectively gives up, and sets about having any fun he can, culminating, farcically, but humorously in his organization of a Volley Ball World Cup between the Cardinals within the Church itself. Moretti is the jester, and the octogenarian Piccoli the tragic clown, drawn not with ridicule in mind, not engagement and empathy.
All jokes aside, there are some definite comparisons to be drawn between this and The King’s Speech: the tone may be different, but there are the same themes of psychological issues, and of an impersonal figure wrestling to find a personal side, as well as a very similar style of soundtrack, and the same commitment to transmitting a broader message by focusing on the idiosyncrasies of human relationships (for The King’s Speech it was overcoming adversity, and for Habemus Papam! it is a quest for normalcy). There is also a similar stylistic approach at work in both, with both directors aiming for, and achieving a rich, opulent aesthetic that helps to translate the grandeur of the subject, even though one seeks to celebrate and the other to gently mock. And in both cases there is a definite sense of tragedy cutting under a warmer overall tone: the Pope is certainly a tragic figure, unwilling and unable to take on his supremest of duties, with unfulfilled dreams of being a theatrical actor.
Overall, Habemus Papam! is a strangely engaging thing, a lovingly shot, ironic comedy that never resorts to cheap digs to carry the weight of its message, while also offering an enduring humanist story about one man’s struggle to overcome his tragic personal situation. While it is focused slightly differently, like The King’s Speech, Habemus Papam! is an engaging story of someone finding his voice and thus also himself.
The Upside: It is genuinely funny, and thanks to Michel Piccoli, successful as a sometimes touching portrait of self-discovery – albeit one tempered by an ironic politicized message.
The Downside: While strong in comic set-ups, and well characterized, the script leaves something to be desired when it comes to scene progression, as the Pope tends to land in situations when “on the run” that surely would have been bettered presented with a little more bridging work. Grade B+
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