What a marvelous thing Paolo Sorrentino has created with this series, what an absolute work of art. I have to admit that without barely knowing anything from this show –the director was reason enough for me– i expected something totally different. I thought this was going to be a super scandalous series about a corrupt pope and that he would do anything he wanted when it came to women, habits and everything (even though Jude Law's pope smokes) but i was totally wrong and that's the beauty of it, because there's so much more than a simple story of a pope that doesn't follow the established rules of the Church.
For a starter, you don't get to understand the reasons behind Pius XIII's decisions (extraordinarily played by Jude Law). You just don't comprehend his motives, his rebellious attitude and his even mean words to some. It's only when the story goes on and develops that this new pope starts making sense to you. It's like he has ten thousand layers we have to get rid of before getting to the core of it, and even the character gets surprised by himself. It's a beautiful epiphany we witness and that's what makes the the series so great.
With the figure of the pope, or of Lenny, his real name, we have to take into account that he's a burdened man. He takes the job of being the Holy Father not entirely sure of his beliefs and having a past that haunts him. His biggest weakness is the fact of being an orphan that lost his childhood when he was abandoned by his parents and taken under custody by sister Mary (Diane Keaton). The doubts of why he was rejected by his parents it's something that we see him struggle throughout the whole series. It's only when he decides to face the reality of being denied by his parents that he will finally become an adult and will be able to embrace God and himself, in the precious final scene of the last episode.
Because if there's something that stands out of 'The Young Pope' is the depth of the portrait of Lenny and the beauty of his reflections and speeches. That is what won me over with the show. Sorrentino not only turns to flashbacks of Lennys's childhood to understand him better but also of his dreams and visions that in part torture him. But those oniric images we see helps us to create a bond with a character that we don't like that much at first (or at least i didn't quite much) but through the episodes we get to like more and more.
And what about the beauty of his reflections and speeches? There are two that really stand out for me, the one he gives in Africa about kids and war and the one from his lost love letters that really touched me, especially because Sorrentino creates magic moments with those astonishing words but also with the music used during those two scenes ('Halo' from Lotte Kestner in the first one and 'Never Be Like You' from Flume in the second) which really make you feel everything he's saying as the owner of the absolute truth. Of course there are funny scenes like the one of the Pope getting dressed to LMFAO's 'Sexy and I Know It' but the use of music is really on point. I have to mention Nada's song 'Senza un perchè' as it has become everyone's favorite but practically the whole soundtrack (even though it has a lot of instrumental music) is fantastic.
And when it comes to the other cast apart from the pope, we really encounter a brilliant essemble. From Diane Keaton who's always graceful, to Javier Cámara playing Gutierrez as usual in an excellent way. We also find some others unknown to me like Silvio Orlando who plays Voiello and embodies both a mischievous and a funny character with his passion about footbal and also James Cromwell as the tortured mentor who never became pope or Scott Shepherd as Lenny's orphan pal Dussolier that also stand out.
Even though the subject of the series was not really attractive to me as i'm not really a religious person, this show has really surprised me in such a nice and beautiful way that overwhelms me. Having only watched Sorrentino's last two movies that i absolutely adored ('La Grande Bellezza' and 'Youth') i knew the show was going to be at least interesting but not this great. Being more a spiritual person and finding religions interesting, the series has really won me over in that aspect, as it talks about life and love and faith. And the portray that Jude Law makes is something memorable and probably the performance of his career. I couldn't recommend this show more as it's one of the best ones of the year. And it will have a second season, thank God.
Admire some of the most beautiful stills of the show after the cut, and also the two speeches that i liked most, because they're worth reading and remembering those two scenes have been my favourite part. Image heavy after the cut!
We are all guilty of war and death. Always. In the same way, we can all be guilty of peace. Always. I asked visit you on bended knee. I'm ready to die for you, if only, you will become guilty of peace. I always say to the children who write me from all over the world, think of about all the things you like: that is God. Children like all sorts of things but none of them have ever written that what they like is war. Now look at whoever is next to you. Look at them with eyes of joy and remember what Saint Augustin said: If you want to see God you have the means to do it. God is love. I, on the other hand, won't speak to you about God until there's peace. Because God is peace and peace is God. Give me peace, and I'll give you God. You don't know how wonderful peace is. You have no idea of how disconcerting peace can be. But I know because I saw it when I was 8 years old, on the banks of a river in Colorado.
What is more beautiful, my love, love lost or love found? Don't laugh at me my love. I know it. I'm awkward and naive when it comes to love. And I ask questions straight out of a pop song. This doubt overwhelms me and undermines me my love. To find or to lose. All around me people don't stop yearning, did they lose or did they find, I can't say. An orphan has no way of knowing. An orphan lacks the first love, a love from his momma and papa, that's the source of his awkardkness, his naive. You said to me, in that deserted beach in California "You can touch my legs" but I didn't do it. There my love, it's love lost. That's why I never stopped wondering since that day, where you've been and where you are know. And you, shinning gleam of my misspent youth, did you lose or did you find? I don't know, and I'll never know. I can't even remember your name, my love. And I don't have the answer. This is how I like to imagine it, the answer: in the end my love, we have no choice, we have to find.