You don’t have to be Catholic or to even be religious to be struck by Pope Francis’ brand of benevolence. He brings spiritual comfort to the masses, speaks out about ecological and economic abuses and travels to the far reaches of the planet to attend to global humanitarian crises. His handling of the church’s sex abuse scandals as well as his positions on gender in the church have brought him much criticism. But he’s not above humbling himself, apologizing for his wrongs and putting his words into actions. I grew up Protestant and no longer consider myself religious by any means. However, I have grown to admire Pope Francis as a humanitarian who continues to use his massive platform to do good around the world.
Directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, Francesco explores Pope Francis’ work as a religious icon and thought leader. It’s a sympathetic documentary that does much to present the Pope in the best light. However, Afineevsky does explore, albeit delicately, the Pope’s handling of the sex abuse scandal. Activist Juan Carlos Cruz is interviewed at length about his battle with the church on behalf of himself and other victims and his eventual meeting with the Pope. The documentary adds a 3-D effect on 2-D photos which I felt was unnecessary. It serves as a great primer to Pope Francis’ life and work. I wish it would dug deeper into the Pope’s personal connection to the teachings of Saint Francis of Assissi as well as his insistence on presenting himself as and being a humble Pope.
“Francesco is not a biographical film about Pope Francis in the traditional sense. Rather it is a film that shows us the world as it is today and a path to understanding what a better future of tomorrow can be, as seen through the remarkable work of the Pope.”Director Evgeny Afineevsky
Francesco releases in theaters nationwide today and streams on Discovery+ on March 28th.