After watching the trailer for The Young Pope on YouTube, I had to ask my uncle for his HBO login. Pope Pius XIII, AKA Lenny Belardo (Jude Law), the youngest pope and the first one from America, deeply intrigued me.
The College of Cardinals voted for Lenny as they believed he would be easy to manipulate due to his age. It turns out they were gravely wrong.
Pope Pius is a pitiless conservative who is egotistical as he talks like Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather and struts around like a celebrity in the Vatican. He “rules” the Catholic church with terror and clandestineness, as he does not allow the public to see his face. He said with conviction, “I don’t know if you deserve me,” at the end of his first homily to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square.
The Oscar-winning Italian director, Paolo Sorrentino, could not have picked a better actor to play the arrogant Pope Pius XIII. Jude Law’s skillful acting places a sinister and malevolent twist in the religious drama. Lenny Belardo is the pope that smokes, swears, requests Cherry Coke Zero for breakfast and keeps a kangaroo imported from Australia on Vatican grounds. Publicly strict and not afraid to punish, the audience can see Lenny’s weaknesses. He was left in an orphanage and raised by a basketball playing nun, Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), who sleeps in a shirt that says “I’m a Virgin, But This is an Old T-shirt.”
Jude Law plays a true believer who takes every word from the Bible as fact. He manipulates those he’s working with and fights against the political intrigues of the other bishops and cardinals. In a meeting with the College of Cardinals he tells them that the Church needs to stop reaching out to people and begging for believers, but instead have the faithful reach out to them. From his throne he tells the cardinals, “We need to go back to being prohibited – inaccessible and mysterious. That’s the only way we will become once again desirable…I don’t want any more part-time believers… I want fanatics for God!”
Despite his medieval mindset and conservative religious beliefs, Jude Law makes it work with his sassiness, making his outrageous acts seem almost humorous. With eerie blank stares, Law can place the fear of God into the hearts of the characters, and perhaps even the viewers. After acting in countless films that left him with little notoriety, Jude Law has finally found his saving grace: playing a pitiless psycho pope with God on his side.
Viewers can watch the first season of The Young Pope on HBO.
Now, let us pray.
— Amber Canbek