young pope

VATICAN – Young Pope not that young.

In the new HBO show Jude Law plays Lenny, the new American Pope. His election has come back from some serious House of Cardinals politicking by Silvio Orlando among others. He likes his fizzy drinks and he seems intent on upsetting all the old geezers. He’s sexy and they’re all repressed. But of course he isn’t actually that young. He’s not even a hip priest to quote British post-punk band The Fall. He’s a reactionary in many ways and possibly mad. The beginning of the show is impressive with Lenny in full regalia crawling from under a massive pile of babies onto Saint Mark’s Square in Venice. Like many things in the show it is a stunning visual moment. But like many things in the show, it seems to exist only to be a stunning visual moment. Paolo Sorrentino has already been guilty of the style over substance in The Great Beauty and the godawful Youth. Here, his quirk ethic sees him allow kangaroos to wander the Vatican and Diane Keaton’s maternal nun to wear a ‘Like a Virgin’ t-shirt not because that’s what they do but because it’s a witty visual joke.

I’m about halfway through the show and I don’t know whether or not to finish it. Law is good and the people surrounding him – with one or two Eurosoup exceptions – are of high calibre, but nothing seems to happen. And nothing seems to matter. With its claustrophobic powerplays it all ends up feeling a bit old hat.

The Young Pope is showing on HBO.

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