The Pope's Toilet (El Baño del Papa)
Like the recent Couscous, The Pope’s Toilet works up a great deal of narrative tension out of what are very believable anxieties. Its strength is that it generates a plot out of real life and real concerns. Taking as its premise a visit Pope John Paul II made to the Uruguayan town of Melo, the film explores how the locals hope the visit will work a mini-economic miracle. Expecting many thousands of visitors to pour in from nearby Brazil, Beto (César Troncoso) and his neighbours all borrow heavily against the possibility of making a fast buck out of the visit. Beto and his family build a toilet that can be used by the hordes they’re expecting, but will all go according to plan?
Directors Enrique Fernández and César Charlone have made a film that is heavy on pathos and offers too many reaction shots to Cesar’s wise daughter looking at her parents’ messy lives, but this is cinema with a purpose, a film that cranks up the tension as well as a thriller but with a decidedly more socio-political purpose.
GFT, Glasgow & Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 5‐Thu 11 Sep.