Panicked pope seeks psychoanalytic help in new Moretti film

A newly elected pope seized by panic turns to a psychoanalyst for help in Italian director Nanni Moretti's latest comedy, "Habemus Papam", selected Thursday to compete at the Cannes film festival.

Things get off to a good start for cardinal Melville, played by French actor Michel Piccoli: initially an outsider in the papal race, his modest appearance and calm manner persuade the voting cardinals that he is the man for the job.

But as the enormity of the task grows on him, the cardinal becomes increasingly agitated and at the announcement "We have a Pope!" he rushes off, leaving the famous balcony in St. Peter's square empty as the crowds stare.

"Help me, I can't do it," the new pope cries as he sets off at a sprint down the corridors of the Vatican, leaving the stunned cardinals in his wake.

Alarmed, the Vatican spokesman decides to call in Rome's best psychoanalyst, played by Moretti, whose first meeting with the patient turns into a comical group session with all the cardinals.

Banned from talking about sex, fantasies, mothers or dreams, Moretti turns to the only authorised text, the Bible, for inspiration.

"The concepts of the soul and the subconscious cannot coexist," protests a cardinal, to which the psychoanalyst swiftly retorts: "The Bible is full of depression: sleep deprivation, sadness and suicides."

The most persuasive performance comes from 85-year-old Piccoli as a man devoured by fear and a desperate longing to throw off his pontiff robes and go back to enjoying the simple, everyday pleasures of the masses.

"I wanted to tell the story about this fragile character who feels unsuited to the role, but in the form of a comedy," Moretti told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

"I hoped to convey that feeling of being inept that all cardinals experience after they are elected," the 57-year-old director added.

The sense of foreboding depicted in Moretti's film was captured in Pope enedict XVI's book "Light of the World," in which the current pontiff confessed how he felt when he heard he had been elected.

"I thought the guillotine had come for me," he wrote. "Voila! Now it will fall and strike you," he told himself.

The pope's depression and his solitary existence move the Vatican spokesman and the audience to pity: "Let me leave, I beg of you," he cries as the camera lingers on his visual struggle between faith and anxiety.

"Habemus Papam" is less a reflection on the relationship between religion and psychoanalysis than a comedy that pokes fun at journalists and psychoanalysts, whilst having a gentle dig at the Church as well.

Interviewed by the AFP, the director of "The Son's Room" in 2001 and "Dear Diary" in 1994 admitted that the theme of psychoanalysis "comes up often in my films."

"One day I'll have to ask myself why," he joked.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary