It premiered this week The Young Pope on HBO, a series created by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino. The filmmaker, famous for his incisive criticism of society’s traditions – which earned him the Oscar for best foreign film in 2014 with The Great Beauty – bears the same ironic tone for papal reality and politics.
The Young Pope tells the story of the charming Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law, who becomes the first American Pope in history. From the outset we realize that Lenny does not follow the rules of the modern church, deciding to follow his own path and ideas to the upset of those who put him in power.
Lenny, however, demonstrates a love for the church that does not seem to be found around him: he wants to restore the institution to its former glory, making radical decisions even as to the clothes he wears, wearing clothes of popes from the distant past. But while Lenny devotes all his energy to the church, he demonstrates that he is not very religious, often manifesting a great lack of faith.
How did such a person come to power? The cardinals of the Vatican, responsible for choosing the new Pope, were afraid that another cardinal, Michael Spencer, played by James Cromwell, would rise to power. Consequently, they voted for Lenny because he thought it would be easy to manipulate the young man. What they did not expect was the seat of the new Pope in asserting his convictions.
The first episode starts slow and although it has funny parts that help entertain the audience, it does not show the way in which the series will actually unfold. It is here that the main characters are introduced, such as Sister Mary, played by Diane Keaton, the only person who can influence Lenny, and the cardinal Voiello, played by Silvio Orlando and the person responsible for the political failure that led Lenny to become the new potato
With each episode, however, surprises and revelations make The Young Pope more and more interesting. For the kind of audience that expects to be entertained quickly and immediately, The Young Pope will not please. However, for those who like to unravel mysteries and find solutions, the series will reveal itself more than it appears.
Because of the first episode, we think Lenny is just a man of contradictions in a world full of contradictions. We also began to believe that the series will focus on controversial issues such as sexuality, especially rape, and lack of faith in the world today. In other words, we believe that The Young Pope will be another political series that tries to show reality inside the Vatican. It is easy to just accept Lenny’s characteristics and not pay attention to the real motive behind his opinions and feelings. However, this reason is the reason why the show ends up successful and exciting.
How can a Pope have so much love for the church and not have faith in his dogmas or beliefs? The reason, which develops in the course of the series, can only be found in the divine plan.
(article translated from the original version in portuguese, by Google Translate)