Created and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, 'The Young Pope' tells the story of Lenny Belardo, aka Pius XIII (Jude Law), the first American Pope in history. Young and charming, his election seems to be the result of a simple yet effective media strategy on the part of the College of Cardinals. But appearances can be deceptive. Above all, in the place and among the people who have chosen the great mystery of God as the compass guiding their existence. That place is the Vatican and those people are the leaders of the Church. And Pius XIII proves to be the most mysterious and contradictory of them all. Shrewd and naive, ironical and pedantic, primeval and cutting-edge, doubting and resolute, melancholy and ruthless, Pius XIII tries to cross the endless river of human solitude to find a God he can give to mankind. And to himself.
I really wanted to like this series. I was hoping for an offbeat drama with sly humour, interesting characters and maybe even some insight into the conflict of the spiritual life struggling in a massive bureaucracy. Wrong on all counts. What little humour there was is puerile, the characters are all cardboard cutouts and, if there are any insights to be had, they somehow slipped by my awareness. How a young man who is a completely amoral narcissist came to be elected pope is never given any explanation, and the entire Vatican hierarchy is so hapless that one can not find any attempt at either a meaningful or genuinely satiric commentary. I hung on for the entire first episode hoping it would improve and start to develop into an engaging story. It didn't.
Lots of nice imagery, but I found it extremely lacking on the plot front, and my interest waned by the mid-point.
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Finally a TV show I enjoy
- The Young Pope review by AS
Everybody raves about TV shows and I hated all of them, including the supposedly the best like The Wire (which I forced my self to watch the full first season), Treme and numerous others which I never watched past one or two episodes. This is finally something I genuinely enjoy. It's beautiful and I find the story truly intriguing. So the moral might be that if you hate everything else you might like this.
The Young Pope is not thrilling or highly gripping; it is slow and rich and beautifully composed (including some typical eclectic music choices). Sorrentino is a very individual director with his own style. It's great to see someone like him getting creative control of a big budget series. It's not meant to be an insight into the reality of the Vatican but more an exploration of how a certain way of thinking might work within the idea of the vatican. Not everybody's cup of tea but if you like his films you'll enjoy this.