The premise of The Young Pope is simple: a good-looking young American is elected as the head of the Catholic Church by elderly cardinals, who assume that an easily manipulated, media-friendly Pope will increase the Church’s popularity. What they get is a Cherry Coke Zero addicted smoker, familiar with the pop culture of Daft Punk and Banksy, yet deeply conservative and set on charting a new authoritarian path for the Papacy.
Starring Jude Law (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alfie, The Talented Mr Ripley) as Lenny Belardo, now Pius XIII, and Diane Keaton (The Godfather, Finding Dory) as the nun who raised him, The Young Pope was directed by Paolo Sorrentino, who won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for The Great Beauty in 2014.
The 10 episode first season sees power-hungry Pius XIII choose anonymity, refusing to pose for photos or travel, preferring to transform the position from approachable ambassador into something more distant and sinister. Law’s character sets about a radical transformation of the Vatican, someone from outside the system throwing out centuries of tradition and received wisdom to the horror of those within. Plot and intrigue are, of course, integral to the story.
With parallels to present-day American politics, The Young Pope is unsettling yet fascinating. Thanks to its incredible cast, beautiful cinematography and more than a little controversy, The Young Pope is set to become a hit for Showmax. The Young Pope premiers on Showmax on 13 April 2017.