2019 Film Review – 2: Pope Francis: A Man Of His Word [dir. Wim Wenders; 2018]

One wonders what promises were made by Wim Wenders and his team to persuade the Vatican to grant them access to Pope Francis. Or maybe they were just charmed by what is admittedly a winning smile and a compelling warmth. Whatever happened behind the scenes, Wenders has created an unsubtle, largely interview-led documentary which systematically lists the world’s woes and then presents Francis as the man with the right attitude to tackle them. Everything from social indifference to the refugee crisis is shown as ripe for the current Pope’s particular brand of compassion. Perhaps I’m being too cynical. After all, one imagines the world really would become a better place if resources were shared, grudges were forgotten and friendly shoulders became more abundant. But because it’s so crude, the movie fails to make a convincing case for its own argument. And the downright embarrassing quality of the mock-silent-film ‘flashbacks’ to the life of St Francis, used by Wenders at key moments, highlights his rather patronising attitude to his audience. Perhaps the Pope just needed to be portrayed by a more rigorous, exacting director. I dare say he’d have been up to the challenge.

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