Venice Film Festival: The Young Pope

The Young Pope
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino

Starring Jude Law, Diane Keaton, Silvio Orlando, Scott Shepherd, Cécile de France, Javier Cámara, Ludivine Sagnier, Toni Bertorelli and James Cromwell

by Laura Patricia Jones

Blasphemy, banter and bums – it’s all kicking off at the Vatican in Paolo Sorrentino’s new television series The Young Pope.

Much to the dismay of his cardinals, eye-catchingly handsome Lenny Belardo (Jude Law) is the newly appointed Pius XII – the first American Pope in history. Young, charming and devilishly manipulative, Lenny proves to be the most mysterious and contradictory Pope yet.  Demanding Cherry Coke Zero for breakfast, keeping pet Kangaroos and having graphic dreams of addressing St. Peter’s square with a speech on accepting abortion, homosexuality, contraception and masturbation – it’s a very brave and bold script.

With the first two episodes premiering at Venice Film Festival, it’s difficult to get a clear idea of where it’s all going next as with television series, it takes a bit of warming up to get into. But any feature that flashes Jude Law’s wonderfully pert bottom at me in the opening scene is going to get my vote. And without meaning to sound perverted, boy does he wear those robes well. Draped in white, puffing on a cigarette that’s meant to be banned in the Basilica, it’s as if Sorrentino has made Lenny the embodiment of sin and converted desire as he sits there more like a powerful contradiction than the embodiment of Christ.

With Lenny’s backstory as an orphan boy taken into the care of Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), the foundations are laid for his loneliness and insecurities to fester, which will be interesting to see in further episodes as the end of the second leaves us unsure as to where Sorrentino is going to take this story next.

One thing that is certain is the excellent casting – the whole cast delivers their lines with dry wit and humour, and Jude Law shines in a role that was practically written for him. Not entirely sure what the Catholic Church will make of this kind of profanity, but it’s sure to pack a punch with Sky Atlantic viewers.

The Young Pope is a joint Sky, HBO, CANAL+ production and will be broadcast on Sky Atlantic in 5 countries: in Italy from October 21st , in UK, Germany, Ireland and Austria from late October, and in France on CANAL+ from late October.



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