Pope Francis A Man Of His Word review: Wim Wenders directs this engaging though ultimately shallow documentary that swerves away from pressing issues – though one still can’t help be moved.
Pope Francis A Man Of His Word review by Paul Heath.
It’s not often that we get a glimpse behind the doors of the Vatican, let alone an audience with the Pope, through that’s exactly what Wim Wenders has been granted with Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word. The film, making its debut in Cannes, is largely comprised of interviews with the head of the Catholic Church, formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, talking to us in his native tongue, looking straight into the lens as us. It is perhaps the most direct and most personal this, or indeed any other pope has given, or likely to ever give again.
Wenders’ very well crafted documentary, which certainly looks absolutely beautiful, begins with origins of the name chose by the 266th pope, saint Francis of Assisi – a picturesque time-lapse shot of the city hanging like a beautiful portrait during the opening frames. The German filmmaker then places actors to match the continuous voice over, our guide on this engrossing, sometimes deeply involving journey. I say that as a non-member if the church, or a religious person altogether, actually finding Francis captivating, his words extremely powerful and often inspiring. His recollection of speaking with a 6 year old cancer sufferer just hours before he died is utterly heartbreaking, as well as the countless scenes of him visiting detention centers and hurricane devastated regions of the world really rather moving.
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I was also wrong to assume that darker subject matter like that of child molestation would be skirted over, and while the section is brief, the Francis does field questions from hungry journalists on a flight, confronting the issue head-on, even if the section is all too brief.
Other subjects are covered- like parents, particularly fathers taking more time to spend with their children, respecting days off to take stock of life, realising that death is an inevitable fact of life and to embrace it with open arms, and possibly his most passionate subject – combating world poverty and unemployment.
Although Wenders never feels compromised with what he can and can’t cover, the pope neither comes across particularly challenged – for example we never hear the interviewer responding to any particular point, and there never seems to be much pressure applied to extract or elaborate any further fact.
The film will find an audience, and for all its breezing over the more pressing points, one still can’t helped be moved for his continued influence the world over. I wanted more, but still left satisfied with what I got.
Pope Francis A Man Of His Word review by Paul Heath, May 2018.
Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word opens in UK cinemas on 10 August 2018.