DRAMA/COMEDY WE HAVE A POPE (tbc) 104mins ●●●●●

Describing Italian writer-director Nanni Moretti’s new feature, We Have a Pope, as a comedy would be akin to describing Raging Bull as ‘a boxing picture’. Where the latter is actually a complex study of masculine self-loathing, the former uses its lightness of touch and carefully recreated Vatican setting to ask deeper questions about personal feelings of inadequacy and society’s insistence on maintaining appearances.

Cardinal Melville (veteran French actor Michel Piccoli) has

unexpectedly been elected Pope by the College of Cardinals. Preparing to address the amassed well-wishers in St Peter’s Square, he experiences a crisis of confidence, calling out, ‘I can’t do this,’ and retreating to his chambers. A panicked Vatican spokesman (Jerzy Stuhr) invites atheist therapist Professor Brezzi (Moretti himself) to assuage Melville’s doubts. On Brezzi’s recommendation, the pope is spirited outside the walls of the Holy See to visit another shrink, Brezzi’s estranged wife (Margherita Buy), who diagnoses ‘parental deficit’, yet on this excursion Melville manages to slip his minders and begins wandering Rome’s streets. Notions of performance and role-playing abound: a Vatican

guard impersonates the pontiff by occupying the latter’s quarters; the cardinals are amusingly organised by Brezzi into participating in a volleyball tournament; and Melville himself, a frustrated actor, encounters a theatrical troupe rehearsing Chekhov’s The Seagull. Visual contrasts are established between gilded interiors and exterior locations to examine the key themes of physical and mental imprisonment. An attractively shot, designed and costumed film, We Have a Pope has light-hearted touches but presents a surprisingly pessimistic vision of an individual’s place within a system, although Moretti’s downbeat resolution scored to Arvo Part’s powerful ‘Miserere’ movingly conveys the dignity in a principled man’s refusal to conform. (Tom Dawson) Selected release from Fri 2 Dec.


A quarter of a century after his acclaimed performances as the shifty hunchback Ugolin in Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette and its sequel Manon des Sources, French actor Daniel Auteuil plays it safe in his directorial debut with this polished if unadventurous remake of Marcel Pagnol’s 1940 melodrama. It’s tale of love across the class divide, with the beautiful 18-year-old Patricia

(ridiculously pretty Pirates of the Caribbean mermaid Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), the devoted daughter of Provençal well digger Pascal (Auteuil himself), falling for a dashing pilot Jacques (Nicolas Duvauchelle) on the eve of WWII. Jacques is the son of a wealthy local hardware store owner (Robert Guédiguian regular Jean- Pierre Darroussin), but Pascal has already indicated that Patricia should marry his middle-aged colleague Félipe (Kad Merad).

Lovers of bucolic Vaucluse landscapes won’t complain and the performances are convincing enough, yet Auteuil’s film is fairly old-fashioned in its execution, and feels like it could have been made before the French New Wave crashed down on cinema’s shores in the 1950s. To paraphrase Bogart’s Rick Blaine in Casablanca, it’s unclear whether these characters’ problems amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. (Tom Dawson) Selected release from Fri 9 Dec.

‘I don’t have a problem with women’, confides chocolate factory owner Jean- René (Belgian actor and comedian Benoît Poelvoorde) to his psychoanalyst (Stéphan Wojtowicz). ‘They just terrify me, that’s all.’ In clinical terms le patron is suffering from pathological shyness the French title Les Anonymes Emotifs more accurately translates as ‘hyper-sensitives anonymous’ which makes forming intimate romantic relationships a formidable challenge. Enter the beautiful yet single Angelique (Isabelle Carré), who’s so nervous that she won’t even take credit for her own chocolate-making accomplishments. How will this socially anxious duo be able to reveal their true feelings for one another? Written and directed by Jean-Pierre Améris, Romantics Anonymous has been a

surprise hit at the French box office. Given Carré’s and Poelvoorde’s respective renditions of I Have Confidence and Les Yeux Noirs, you hope that this might turn into a Jacques Demy-style musical, yet the gently stylised film follows a predictable rom-com path. Despite the likeable performances from the two leads and some amusing moments in both group and individual therapy sessions, the briskly paced Romantics Anonymous is far more saccharine than bittersweet in its sensibility. (Tom Dawson) Selected release from Fri 2 Dec.

70 THE LIST 17 Nov–15 Dec 2011