“To gather information about his youth we took a long trip to Argentina and we talked with a lot of people, friends, parishioners; in Buenos Aires. There’s barely a single person without a personal memory of the Pope”, said Luchetti. “But then I stopped thinking of him of a person that was alive and kicking, who lived a mile from my house. I even stopped reading articles about the Pope.”
Chiamatemi Francesco takes us back to Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s youth and his first thoughts about a life serving God, from his decision to leave his friends (and a girlfriend) and become a Jesuit priest in some of the most difficult years in the history of Argentina. Pope Francis, as Luchetti shows us, has been able to advance his causes, his career, and his spirituality by managing, somehow, to minister to the faithful without getting arrested, tortured, and killed by the dictatorship’s death squads, as many of his colleagues did.
Luchetti didn’t want to make a churchy movie, and this seems like an impossible task, a movie about the church that isn’t churchy, but Luchetti has pulled it off. Full disclosure: I’m Catholic and so it’s possible that this film touched me in a more substantial way, but only the fiercest opponent to the Catholic church could watch Chiamatemi Francesco and not be affected at least a little by the exemplary life and personal strength of this man who just happens to be Pope.
And yet Luchetti doesn’t try to make him a saint. Could he have done more to fight the government brutalities, like some of his fellow priests? Maybe, but then he might not have survived to help others. Francis was strong and faithful, but also practical.
It’s been a long time since a movie brought me to tears, but this one succeeded. It did it without a maudlin storyline and without saccharin performances. It’s one of those films that make me want to be a better person having been shown one that really exists.