There’s possibly only one director working in cinema today who can match Baz Luhrmann in terms of glamour and sumptuous visuals aesthetic. Paolo Sorrentino has an extraordinary eye. He demonstrates this most vividly in The Great Beauty, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2014. He followed this with the lavish Youth. In his first English-Language TV series, The Young Pope, he tackles theology from a fresh perspective.
Lenny Belardo (Jude Law) is a rather extraordinary choice as the new Pope. As well as being the first American, and by far the youngest to be rewarded with the Papacy, he also exudes a unexpected sense of style and glamour. His refuses to show his face to the press or public and heralds a move away from liberalism towards hard-line conservatism. This dismays His Eminence (Silvio Orlando), as does the new Pius XIII’s reliance on Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) for advice and counsel.
Jude Law delivers his best performance in years as the Cherry Coke Zero guzzling pontiff. It’s a clever approach from Sorrentino to start with him firmly entrenched to the right and gradually reel himself back as he grows and matures into the position. He’s constant inner-turmoil with God provides a soundtrack for the series. It’s beautifully made. Long lingering shots of nuns playing volleyball on well-coiffed gardens merge with serene introspective moments. Elaborate set-pieces contrast with the mundanities of Vatican life. The Young Pope is staggering work of art. The televisual equivalent of an existential crisis painted by an old master.
The Young Pope is released Blu-ray, DVD and on Digital by Dazzler Media today.