If you haven’t seen the Netflix original Two Popes, Br. Tito and I highly recommend it. That is, with an important caveat: it’s a complete work of fiction. While, yes, there are in fact two living men who at one point were popes, and yes, much of the movie is based on true events, the entire premise is fictional. The movie centers around two encounters—Cardinal Bergoglio meeting Pope Benedict XVI at Castle Gandolfo to discuss Bergoglio’s retirement, and the two meeting later to share confessions with one another—that never happened! There is no evidence that these conversations ever took place. (Even the name is misleading! There are not two popes. We have one pope, and that is all. Benedict XVI, while pope at one point, is a retired theologian with no apostolic authority to teach.)
And yet… we still recommend the movie. Despite its historical inaccuracies, despite its mind-numbing oversimplifications, despite its frustrating portrayals at times… it is a beautiful movie with powerful themes.
As a work of non-fiction, it is a hot mess. As a work of fiction, it is one of the best examples of faith, doubt, vocation, reconciliation, and dialogue that I’ve seen in cinema. And from a secular studio for a secular audience, no less!