Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Pope's Toilet Commentary

In the same vein as movies like the Full Monty comes The Pope's Toilet.  It's about the 1988 visit of Pope John Paul II to a small Uruguayan village.  The residents of the village see it as a potential goldmine as they expect thousands from miles around to come hear the pope speak.  One resident, a local smuggler named Beto, decides to build a toilet and charge for it's use.  The movie focuses on beto and, to a lesser extent, his fellow smugglers turned entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, unlike the Full Monty and other similar movies, the Pope's Toilet fails to deliver on what a premise like that needs: laughs.  Just the title alone indicates that it is a bit of a preposterous story that needs to have some element of humour and lightheartedness.  Instead, it delves too much into the conflict relationships that Beto has in his life and his personal struggle for a better life with his family.  The dark tone of the film overshadows the meagre attempts at humour and tends to slow the movie down significantly.

There are some good points to the film.  First, with a premise like building a toilet for the Pope's visit, it actually seemed very realistic.  The setting of rural Uruguay combined with actors that seemed like real people and some very nice lighting and camera work was done very well to give it a sense of authenticity.  The poverty of the village was not too extreme but the viewer can also tell that everyone is struggling to make it in their world.  Ultimately, though, it just didn't work.  In order to be good, these "zany scheme" movies need to be comedies and use that humour to vent the otherwise depressing situation the characters are in.  If they don't it becomes a too depressing experience for the audience.  The poster says "alternately heartbreaking and hilarious."  Sadly, it didn't alternate enough.

Don't see it.

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