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We Have a Pope: movie review

'We Have a Pope' has an engaging premise but the story sags unaccountably in the second half.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / April 6, 2012

This undated photo shows director-actor Nanni Moretti (l.) and French actor Michel Piccoli during a scene of the movie 'We Have a Pope.'

Phlippe Antonello, Courtesy of 'We Have a Pope' press office/AP

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Writer-director Nanni Moretti’s “We Have a Pope” begins with a marvelous premise: What would happen if a cardinal suddenly chosen as the next pope had a panic attack and refused to address the faithful in St. Peter’s Square? Melville (an excellent Michel Piccoli), not being the front-runner, is caught so completely unawares that he goes into meltdown mode while the world waits – and waits – for the official announcement from the Vatican.

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Moretti plays the unreligious psychiatrist brought in to help. The wonderful Polish actor Jerzy Stuhr plays the harried papal spokesman. It’s a marvelous movie until the halfway point, when it unaccountably devolves into silliness. It’s as if the film suffered its own panic attack. Grade: B (Unrated.)

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