“Is the pope a Catholic?” may be a rhetorical question. When it comes to cardinals, the answer is not so straightforward. Ilan Duran Cohen examines a particularly complicated case in this thoughtful, unpretentious biopic about an extraordinary Catholic prelate.
Jean-Marie (né Aaron) Lustiger (Laurent Lucas, who looks appealingly like Albert Brooks) converted to Catholicism in Nazi-occupied Orléans in 1940 when he was 14. Both his parents objected. Lustiger’s mother was later murdered in Auschwitz, but his father survived the Holocaust and petitioned the rabbi of Paris to have his son’s conversion annulled. Despite this disapproval, Lustiger persisted in his faith, entered the priesthood, and rose in the ranks of the Catholic hierarchy.