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It's funny to think about a film about so serious a subject as the ethics and morality of religion writ large and small simultaneously as a whimsical thing, but there you have it. It was a delightful two hours spent. The acting of Hopkins and Pryce lift the film to heights it likely could not have achieved without them. It challenges the viewer to think about ethics, morality, and leadership, but it doesn't club them over the head by exposing these two clerics as human beings. It is, perhaps, too successful in painting a humanistic picture that one might almost be tempted to see it as partially whitewashing many of the problems of the Church, past and current.
I'm well read and informed enough to understand that it's unlikely that Sheeran's version of events is fabrication, but it doesn't matter. This film is a tour de force on so many levels - acting, directing, editing, costuming, production design, the cgi de-aging techniques, etc. that it really does deserve the "must-see" endorsement. Yes, there's a lot of good young talent out in the world, and age and experience does not always perforce produce superior results - but in this case, age and experience did produce superior results, and the makers of this film deserve recognition for this masterpiece.
I so wanted to give this film more than three stars, but alas, that would be disingenuous of me. The film is clever, and it takes an approach that has a great deal of potential, but it sadly falls short of the mark. In some ways, I actually do prefer this film's approach to that of "The Big Short" (to which many other reviewers have compared it unfavorably) but not even the stellar cast could keep the ultimate end-product from being uneven and failing to incite the deep anger it should incite in people.
I've been meaning to watch this for years. It's all I heard it was -an absolutely brilliant dive into the rabbit-hole of documentary filmmaking. This film gets into your head - it's had me thinking about it for days now.