Thursday, March 9, 2017

HBO TV Review: The Young Pope (2017)

The Young Pope (2017) - Created by Paolo Sorrentino; Starring Jude Law, Diane Keaton, Silvio Orlando, Javier Camara, Cecile de France, Ludivine Sagnier, James Cromwell.

By Kenny Howell

It's hard to know just what exactly The Young Pope is.

It could be House of Cards by way of The Vatican, but House of Cards didn't have nuns who are excellent at soccer, and a pet kangaroo.

The Young Pope is a extraordinarily weird show that kind of defies explanation. The first scene of the show is Jude Law (Black Sea), who plays the titular character, also known as Pope Pius XIII, crawling out of a large stack of babies. Granted it is a dream sequence, but it is kind of what you are getting with this show. It also has the Pope arguing with his staff early on that all he has for breakfast is a Cherry Coke Zero, and he will do nothing until he gets it.

At first, that makes it seem like this show is terrible. And that terribleness becomes a draw, but somehow it avoids being campy. Part of that is the Pius XIII character, who on the surface is a power hungry jerk, but also a man with a deeply troubled past. He was an orphan left at an early age and never met his parents. Growing up that way, under the care of Sister Mary, played by Diane Keaton (The Big Wedding), has corrupted himself and made him super quirky. As Pope, he doesn't want to be seen in public, comparing himself to Daft Punk or Banksy, needing to create an allure around him.

His unorthodox ways obviously create some strife within The Vatican, and plenty of backstabbing commences. However, that is not where creator Paolo Sorrentino lives with this show. It is all about Pius, and him dealing with his past, and how it manifests itself in the present. It is intriguing to say the least, unlike anything on TV, which turns out a blessing and curse. But an interesting one nonetheless.

The entire first season of The Young Pope is now streaming on HBO Go or HBO Now.

Rating: ***

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