Sunday, April 8, 2012

We Have a Pope

Some ideas make great feature films, others great shorts. Nanni Moretti’s comedy “We Have a Pope” would benefit from the latter format; it could be a delicious short story about a cardinal who, though nobody’s front-runner, emerges from the conclave at the Holy See as the new Pope (or doesn’t emerge, actually), realizing only after accepting the job that he’s stricken with panic and in way over his head. Stretched to 104 minutes, though, the film feels severely underfed. There are some truly clever ideas and some big laughs, but “We Have a Pope” careens like a driver without tires from broad, almost puerile comedy to a would-be introspective examination of an older man who’s devoted himself to God and missed out on many of life’s possibilities, and now quakes with fear and dread at the prospect of leading billions of followers. A more sure-footed director might better have melded the two halves; Moretti’s picture ends up neither fish nor fowl.

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