Italian writer-director Nanni Moretti tries to create satirical laughs and thoughtful drama in "We Have a Pope," but neither mood feels authentic.
The film's title is translated from the Latin phrase "Habemus Papam," which is declared when the College of Cardinals emerges from its conclave to announce a new pope. In this fictional telling, the newly elected Pontiff, Cardinal Melville (Michel Piccoli), gets cold feet before the announcement and flees. The Vatican's PR boss (Jerzy Stuhr), trying to fend off a media circus, brings in a psychoanalyst (played by Moretti) to try to talk to Cardinal Melville and soon the doc is confined with the bored cardinals, unable to leave the Vatican until this leadership crisis is solved.
Moretti's comedy and his skewering of Catholic foibles is a bit ham-fisted, but he does hit a few choice targets. The movie's main charms are in seeing Piccoli, the great French actor ("Belle du Jour," "La Belle Noiseuse"), find some humanity and passion in the usually remote figure of a pope.