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A newly-elected Pope Leo XIV finds himself accidentally locked out of the Vatican. Unknown to the outside world, he winds up in an impoverished Italian village, where his adventures ultimately teach the Pope and his new friends some important lessons about friendship and self-esteem. Written by
Chris DeSantis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hopeful, uplifting revelation of a Pope's touching, human side
This comedy drama is a relatively undiscovered jewel of a movie. I saw it only once about 15 plus years ago, so frankly have forgotten many of the details. However, I see very few comments posted so felt obligated to add my praise. For starters, this movie features lovely scenery of the Italian countryside as well as views of Rome. However, its chief merit is that it's a gentle, hopeful story with some quietly amusing moments.
Leo XIV is a new Pope who has become disillusioned with his tightly booked schedules, official audiences, and regular briefings on world affairs. He feels out of touch with the ordinary individuals outside the Vatican's walls, wonders if he has any effect on their lives, and misses daily contact with people as an ordinary priest. One day while chasing a windblown paper of gardening instructions, he is inadvertently locked out of the Vatican. The Pope makes his way to Montepetra, an obscure, impoverished village which he has overheard is in need of a priest, and thus 'goes missing' from the Vatican for a time. He finds himself helping the poor village peasants and in the process, rediscovers the joys he misses from being a regular priest where he is able to clearly see his impact upon those he serves.
Tom Conti is both compelling and endearing in the role of Pope Leo XIV. He conveys very effectively this Pope's strengths, his approachability and lack of self righteous piety, as well as exposing his sense of humour and vulnerability to temptation...his human side. It is the first time I saw Tom Conti act and I was so impressed by his portrayal in this movie that I've been a fan of his ever since.
Perhaps this film isn't that realistic, as Pope Leo appears a bit young to have been chosen for the Fisherman's Shoes and his unexplained absence from the Vatican seems unlikely. However, do we always need realism? This movie shows that even a Pope can feel trapped and have self doubts, though despite undergoing something of a minor crisis, this man's deep faith is never really in question. It is an unexpectedly lovely, optimistic, and inspiring tale that can be enjoyed by anyone, including non Catholics. Personally, I would love to locate it to watch again.
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