Coming in June on Blu-ray and Digital HD from HBO Home Entertainment is a mind blowing limited series from creator/director Paolo Sorrentino and “The Young Pope.”
Lenny Belardo (Jude Law) is now the first American Pope choosing the name Pius XIII. Immediately he begins making changes the likes of which the Vatican and its priests have never seen. Upset that he was not chosen as Pope is Archbishop Spencer (James Cromwell), his angers extends to Lenny by cutting him off.
Bringing in the big guns, Lenny chooses Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), the nun who took care of him when his parents left him at the orphanage. Knowing no one would get to him without dealing with Sister Mary, Cardinal Secretary of State Vioello (Silvio Orlando) immediately knows choosing Lenny Belardo as Pope could cost them all.
From his first speech however, everyone within ear shot knows that this is a Pope who isn’t going to be controlled by anyone. Immediately Lenny wants to know who is with him and more importantly, who is against him. That’s when Vioello tries to call in those who would want to control Lenny.
Of course when it all is brought to Lenny’s attention, he calmly tells Vioello that excommunication is a card he has no problem playing. But the games are not over as a woman named Esther (Ludivine Sagnier) is brought in to work closely with the Pope as they all watch to see if a sex scandal can be created to rock the Vatican.
It is clear quickly that Vioello is out of ideas as Lenny also makes it clear that he knows what everyone is up to and every dirty little secret they each have. Playing another dangerous game, Lenny makes demands of the Italian Prime Minister that could bring problems for the politician.
But closer to Lenny is his friend Cardinal Dussollier (Scott Shepherd) and in one fell swoop, the new Pope asks in a demanding way that he point out all those incoming priests who do not follow the rules both in celibacy and homosexuality. In those rules come shocks that will cause a surprising agreement between two enemies.
A trip to Africa the Pope wants to see the works of a Sister Antonia only to discover secrets and a confession that goes haywire. In New York, Archbishop Kurtwell (Guy Boyd) has agreed to provide letters written by Lenny that end up only helping the new Pope’s cause sending the blackmailer to a colder place than he could have imagined.
In San Marco as the Basilica, after spending his time staying out of the limelight, Pope Pius XIII makes a grand gesture showing his face to followers. Believing his sees the face of the parents he has longed to find in the crowd, it leads to a finale that is spectacular!
Law as Pope Pius XIII is jaw dropping in every scene and in every frame. I have to say that I was completely riveted by everything about his performance. Seriously, this series just sends one wtf moment after another and I couldn’t be more pleased about that. It is difficult to find a storyline that is completely original and mind blowing AND get an actor to carry it but with Law as Lenny — epicness complete! This character is intense and doesn’t apologize for any of it, how can you not love that?
Keaton as Sister Mary is just a blast to watch as well. She is a no-nonsense and ‘don’t let this habit fool you’ kind of nun who I would hang out with in a heart beat. Keaton continues to surprise me in her role choices and as Sister Mary I cheered every time someone came up against her.
Orlando as Vioello puts the slap on trying to get Lenny removed and being totally creative about it. Keeping calm to his face, it is when those robes are swaying down the halls of the Vatican that you can see the wheels turning. Always appearing humble, Orlando is always on his toes and looking for any way to crack the Pope.
Cromwell as Archbishop Spencer stands tall and defiant against Lenny being chosen as the Pope. Trying to keep his divine composure, he makes it clear that a mistake has been made and he isn’t about to help make Lenny’s new post easier. I love this role for Cromwell but then again I pretty much love every role he has played. This is a role filled with bitterness and even rage of the highest kind.
Other cast include Cecile de France as Sofia, Toni Bertorelli as Cardinal Caltanissetta, Andre Gregory as Elmore Coen, Rayna Tharani as Maribeth, Tony Plana as Carlos Garcia, Gianluca Guidi as Father Federico Amatucci, Ignazio Oliva as Father Valente, Biagio Forestieri as Peter, Ramon Garcia as Cardinal Aguirre and Monica Cetti as Contessa Meraviglia.
“The Young Pope” is one of the most original series I have seen in a long time. What is even more amazing is that originality is only the tip of what this series brings. The storyline is fused with twists and turns that only Lenny sees coming which means all eyes are on him.
Another fascination I had with the series is the stunning visuals that are mixed with an ethereal feeling and moments where I could not imagine where it all would lead. Between the visuals and Law, Keaton, Orlando and Cromwell not missing a beat it is clear that the Pope is heavenly perfection.
The Blu-ray includes the Special Features of “The Making of ‘The Young Pope,’” “An Invitation to the Set” and “Inside the Episodes.” The three-disc set includes 600 minutes of what I am calling total epicness of a series that brings shock and awe to another level.
In the end — his religion is revolution!