Phot cRedit: Twitter/MumbaiFilmFest

The best part of attending an international film festival in your city is, one gets to see the finest films often before they are released and sometimes, if they are released. Watching them on your smart television or phone is not the same; the charm is in viewing them in a single-screen theatre, like Regal. The first day featured two fine films, the first was Marriage Story and the second, The Two Popes.

Marriage Story, written and directed by Noah Baumbach, is about an American theatre director and his actor wife who fall in love, have a son and soon, fall out of love. A comedy in which the lead pair, Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver don’t want to go down the path of acrimony, but circumstances force them to face their lawyers, played by Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta. The film takes you through the vicious legal cycle, the things the lawyers force the couple to do and say that drives them off the path of amicable and mutually consenting to the warpath.

The varied emotions, how all the parties connected to both parties are forced to take sides though they do not want to, since be it friends, families or coworkers, they all love the couple, even though the two have fallen out of love. Most importantly, at the core of all the legalities is the custody of the son, who wants to make the most of the situation.

Even single people in the audience could relate to the story, as many burst into sobs, saying it was the story of their lives. A true story, that resonated with many women, who give up everything for the sake of the child’s happiness and peace in the marriage. Only to find out one day that is not their destination and goal. At the end, each does what they had set out to do in the first place, had it not been for the legalities.

Moving from matrimony to the church, the second film, The Two Popes is awesome and you need to ‘listen’ carefully to the dialogues. It is a 2019 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Fernando Meirelles, written by Anthony McCarten and is based on McCarten's play, The Pope, in 2017.

The film revolves around Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict and Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis. The former, who is a conservative Pope, faces several dilemmas because of his assistant's follies -- many priests have been charged with sexual assault and the Vatican is accused of ignoring the matter. In contrast, Pope Francis, a liberal, progressive man who can connect with everybody, be it a child, youth or older people. He is witty, humorous, loving, expressive and a man who links Catholicism to simple, modern life issues to which people can easily relate.

The film portrays the ‘behind-the-scenes’ drama at the Vatican, like the voting for the Pope, the politics and drama involved, the internal dynamics and extravaganza. It makes you realise that the keepers of the highest and richest seat of the Catholic faith also live like kings. The Pope has a private jet, by the way, apart from other luxuries. All this while, the audience is transported to some surreal locales and views. It may also be the only time one gets breathtaking views of the Sistine Chapel, the paintings on the dome gloriously stun you into silence, an I-think-we're-alone-now moment, with only the two Popes, who share heart-to-heart confessions about their shortcomings. How one feels guilty of turning a blind eye to the sexual assaults while the other feels sad for allowing his pride to come in the way of his protecting other priests during the Army rule in Argentina.

A film with fine dialogues and subtle humour. Two elderly, powerful men taking jibes at each other and yet being able to see the other’s predicament and not wanting to pull him down, is definitely a must-see in current political times.

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Free Press Journal