Although there is much talk about Catholic Church matters, “The Two Popes,” directed by Fernando Meirelles and written by Anthony McCarten, is basically a showcase for two fine actors who get a chance to excel in tandem.

Anthony Hopkins plays Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce is Pope Francis, who succeeds him. The film is ripe with scenes between the two of them, some providing background, and one ultimately a warm, human encounter that defines them as people and as men of the cloth.

‘The Two Popes” covers historical background, including events in Argentina, where Pope Francis is from. The ecclesiastic discussions along the way reflect efforts to give the film depth, and how vital those discussions become may depend largely on how much you care about the issues raised.

Theology aside, the performances by Hopkins and Pryce seize the spotlight and there is an element of competitive ham on the part of both, but essentially the two frame their talents to sincerely explore such human qualities as dedication and faithfulness to one’s beliefs, the ability to see the conflicts that exist, and the desire for friendship within the confines of their calling and to appreciate one another.

That’s quite a lot. Both stars deliver what’s demanded of them, and they are enjoyable to watch and at times even moving. A Netflix release. Reviewed November 27, 2019.

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