The New Pope is a veritable orgasm for the eyes and Paolo Sorrentino the visual poet flooding our optical senses with such beauty as he demonstrates his ability as maximum calculator of framing, lights and slow motion.

After The Young Pope, his latest production, which is available on HBO from 11th January in association with THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO, is yet another delightful work calculated to the millimeter. Apart from the story, what we love is the journey through the scenes: how it enters the rooms, how it parades, camera in hand, through Saint Mark’s square in Venice, how it strategically places the characters and how the dialogues are choreographed after being studied conscientiously. And, oh my God! The representation of Michelangelo’s Pieta, pure poetry, and then, only later, comes the storyline.

“For me, the Vatican is the only place in the world where things are thought through before taking action. The Vatican is a compliment to slowness” (Paolo Sorrentino, El Mundo)

The Young Pope left us with a yearning in our hearts after watching helplessly as the ever-attractive Jude Law fell into a deep coma. We were without a Pope, without our charismatic Pius XIII, and we needed to know if he’d once again walk among us; and yes, he would, but only by miracle, he would rise again to reign the Vatican. And this is exactly what this second part is all about, although with one exquisite novelty: we have John Malkovich as a candidate to replace him; elegance personified on the verge of becoming the new leader of the Catholic Church. An actor who runs a mile from religion but who, however, the role of John Paul III fits him like a papal ring. Surrounded by power and opulence, Malkovich seems born to play that role.

“I don’t have much in common with my characters. I’m not a serious person and I’m always picked to play really serious or intellectual people” (John Malkovich, La Vanguardia)

In this second installment, presented in September at the Venice Film Festival and consisting of nine episodes, the director of The Great Beauty is back to provoke us some more. Not only because this time he’s chosen to invite Sharon Stone and Marilyn Manson to take part, but also because he offers us some pretty racy scenes and raises horrendously topical questions for internal debate, including child abuse, homosexuality within the church (beautifully played by Spanish actor Javier Camara) and Islamic terrorism. Sorrentino also leaves us space to reflect on our faith: Why do we pray? What do we ask God for? And, on the figure of the Pope: ‘Can a Pope heal a sick child? Do miracles exist? Only Sorrentino knows.


Bárbara Padilla: Collaborator in the Series section of La Vanguardia. News editor and presenter on RAC1. Barcelona-based journalist since 2007. An amateur movie buff since she was old enough to know right from wrong and of series since the Netflix boom.