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‘Francesco’ review: Documentary gets close, but not close enough, to Pope Francis

What could have been.

Francesco is the type of documentary that is not seen often. The filmmakers were given unprecedented access to His Holiness Pope Francis as he travelled the world. Along the way he discusses many of today’s most important topics, including climate change, women’s empowerment, and LGBTQ rights.

The Catholic church is mired in secrecy. They are an intimidating organization that have been the subject of many stories. This is the main reason Francesco has the potential to be so interesting. It is one thing to see the Pope make an appearance. It is entirely different to take a deep dive into the issues being discussed.

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Unfortunately, this deep dive never quite happens in Francesco. It is great to see that these tragedies are being addressed by the Church. However, while the documentary does show the Catholic church is not ignoring many of today’s problems, it never seems like anything of substance has been communicated. This is not the fault of the filmmakers; the project is simply too large to take on in the span of one film.

There are some interesting nuggets of information. Tweets are shown in order to highlight Pope Francis understands the importance of social media. There are also interviews that give an idea of the charisma of the head of the Catholic church. This is not a documentary meant to uncover any dirty secrets or conspiracies, yet it still feels like it does not go far enough.

This does not mean that Francesco is not worth watching. One of the traits that has made Pope Francis stand out is his ability to relate to the masses. This is seen throughout the documentary in some very moving moments. There is a sense that with more time and less restraints, the film could have gone a long way in demystifying elements of the Catholic church.

Francesco will stream on Discovery+ March 28

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