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El Baño del Papa Review

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A small South American village gets into a flurry over the Pope's 1988 visit.

★★★★

Poverty galvanises César Troncoso in the first directorial collaboration between Oscar-nominated cinematographer César Charlone and screenwriter Enrique Fernández. Tired of eking out a living as a smuggler, Troncoso erects a toilet in his garden and plans to charge people to use it during Pope John Paul II’s visit to the town of Melo. However, forecasts of a 50,000-strong crowd are grossly exaggerated. Contrasting simple faith with the version peddled by the church, this bittersweet parable has loads of charm but several graver issues are also raised. Moreover, with its allusions to neo-realist classics like Bicycle Thieves, it’s as ciné-literate as it is socially provocative.

This bittersweet parable has loads of charm but several graver issues are also raised.