We Have a Pope, but does he have us?

The films of Italian writer-director-actor Nanni Moretti (Caro Diario, The Son’s Room) mete out their narrative developments so casually that they often appear formless; only in hindsight do they reveal a profound understanding of the rhythms of everyday life. This religious satire, in which a newly elected pope (Michel Piccoli) begins to gets cold feet about taking office, plays as a gentle comedy, complete with obvious (though very funny) gags about cardinals playing volleyball and the like. But beneath the surface lies a carefully considered argument about the irrelevance of organized religion in modern society. Though skeptical, the film isn’t at all mean-spirited: Moretti takes such pleasure in living that the impulse to consecrate it seems absurd. With Jerzy Stuhr as a Vatican spokesman and Moretti as a flustered psychoanalyst. In Italian with subtitles.