All indications suggest that, relatively speaking, Pope Francis is a compassionate, progressive pontiff—and if that’s the only thing you’d like to have affirmed for you, then Wim Wenders’ documentary has you covered. Wenders offers neither cradle-to-the-present biography of the Argentine-born pope nor a full fly-on-the-wall portrait of the challenges of leading the Roman Catholic Church, including any internal resistance he might face to his more unconventional ideas. Instead, the filmmaker mostly presents Francis in two contexts—reaching out personally to those who suffer, and speaking directly to the camera to address his perspectives on environmentalism, economic injustice, sexual abuse by members of the clergy and the need to build bridges between people. The result is a glossy, feel-good production—given a bit of a distinctive flavor by black-and-white dramatizations from the life of St. Francis of Assisi (Ignacio Oliva), Pope Francis’ namesake—that’s fairly selective about presenting only the platform planks that mark Francis as a reformer. Nevertheless, there’s still an emotional impact to watching this spiritual leader guiding his flock by example, and offering a sincere interpretation of what it means in 2018 to live a Christ-like life.
Director: Wim Wenders
Writer: Wim Wenders and David Rosier
Producer: Wim Wenders, David Rosier, Samanta Gandolfi Branca, Alessandro Lo Monaco and Andrea Gambetta
Cast: Pope Francis