El Baño del Papa (The Pope's Toilet) (2007)



Critic Consensus: An offbeat charmer, The Pope's Toilet is a humorous, well-crafted tale with plenty of heart and a poignant social message.

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Movie Info

Uruguayan directors César Chalone and Enrique Fernández co-helm the nutty Spanish-language farce El Baño del Papa (The Pope's Toilet). The film unfolds in 1988, during Pope John Paul II's visit to Uruguay. While dozens of economically struggling locals devise plans to turn a buck from the arrival of the papal father -- such as baking cakes and wrapping chorizo sausages -- only one concocts a scheme to earn a fortune from defecation. Beto, a nickel-and-dime smuggler, reasons that all of those cakes and sausages will be digested rather quickly and that over 50,000 locals will soon be clamoring to use the porcelain bowl. Of course, toilets abound in South America, but Beto sets his public toilet apart by crowning it with an aura of prestige -- his will be the only Pope's Toilet in all of Uruguay, and residents, he is certain, will soon be clamoring to use it. Unfortunately, before he can set his scheme in motion, Beto must first locate the most appropriate toilet and make several risky trips across the Brazilian border and back to that end. Then, just as Beto is within arm's reach of success, someone thoughtlessly steals his beloved bicycle -- further hampering his mission. Regardless of the complications at hand, however, Beto's determination persists.
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Mario Silva
as Valvulina
José Arce
as Tica
Henry De Leon
as Nacente
Nelson Lence
as Meleyo
Alex Silva
as Luna
Baltasar Burgos
as Álvarez, Captain
Carlos Lerena
as Soldier
Marcelo Ornes
as Cyclist
Wally Abreo
as Wally
Paula Larruina
as Child In Shop
Carlos Lissardy
as Ches The Madman
Hugo Blandamuro
as Barman, "Stuttermouth"
Emilio Pica
as IMCL Official
Lindolfo Aeske
as Shopkeeper
Cynthia Sylveira
as Silvia's Friend
Pablo Solano
as Journalist
Rosana Villa
as Neighbour 1
Yolanda Mederos
as Neighbour 2
Brandon Antuña
as Boy With Stone
Jessica Tiscornia
as Mother With Baby
Carlos Andrade
as Butcher
Julia Romero Stoppiello
as magazine lady
Marcos Mier
as student
Jorge Almeida
as student
Romulo Ortiz
as student
Raul Olivera
as student
Víctor Pérez
as student
Mirta Machado
as student
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Critic Reviews for El Baño del Papa (The Pope's Toilet)

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (7)

The cast of pros and amateurs provides realistic performances, and co-director Charlone's lensing makes beautiful use of the rough landscape in a movie even the pope would enjoy.

Full Review… | April 9, 2009
New York Post
Top Critic

Watch it now, and you'll be surprised how such a little movie can cut so deeply to the bone.

Full Review… | April 8, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

The Pope's Toilet entertains, even while it illustrates how the impoverished can adjust their religious ideals out of desperation.

Full Review… | April 7, 2009
Village Voice
Top Critic

The Pope's Toilet cloaks religious critique in the scrappy tempo of irremediable poverty and irrepressible enterprise.

April 7, 2009
New York Times
Top Critic

The movie isn't as bad as I feared, but I can't give it much of an endorsement, either.

Full Review… | January 30, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

The Pope's Toilet excels most in its expression of a particular time and place, which Charlone films with the kind of physical intensity and realism associated with recent Argentine cinema.

Full Review… | October 21, 2008
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for El Baño del Papa (The Pope's Toilet)

The struggles of the poor in an Uruguayan border village where smuggling involves transporting groceries on shockless bikes through muddy rivers. This black comedy carries a much weightier tale of struggling to live hand to mouth and unrealised hopes of escape from the (bi)cycle of poverty. It was a bit strange that the pre-film screening was a promotional snippet on the modern, fun and eco-friendly side of Uruguay.

Aaron Chuah
Aaron Chuah

It could be better. Took forever with character development and never ended up really going anywhere.

Bruno Lot
Bruno Lot

In "The Pope's Toilet," to make ends meet, Beto(Cesar Troncoso) smuggles goods across the Brazilian border by bicycle where on one trip his pal and fellow smuggler Valvulina(Mario Silva) is unlucky to have his goods confiscated by their nemesis, Meleyo(Nelson Lence). Anyway, Beto is not getting any younger and would like his teenaged daughter Silvia(Virginia Ruiz), a wannabe journalism student, to join in the family business but his wife Carmen(Virginia Mendez) violently disagrees. This is all towards buying a motorbike which would make his job that much easier, especially with his knee acting up. His bad knee also forces him to take the low road on a run which leads to an unfortunate run-in with customs. But the Pope is coming to visit and Beto has a plan... Inspired by a real story, "The Pope's Toilet" is a heartfelt movie about a poor community that is hampered by the arbitrary nature of borders and authority that preys on the weak. So, you can understand that they see a huge opportunity when the Pope comes to visit. For the faithful, this means spiritual but most see it as a chance to make money to at least temporarily lift them out of poverty. And some wonder if it is right to make money off the Pope's visit. But, then, they do not have any choice, do they? And what's more important, anyway?

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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