Can a documentary about the Pope give us a complex, nuanced, truthful vision that is more than just a vehicle for a message?

Wim Wenders remains one of the most unpredictable and interesting filmmakers going. His is the visionary imagination behind my all-time favorite film — Wings of Desire — and Paris, Texas, a masterful collaboration with Sam Shepard, which is widely regarded as his masterpiece.

Lately, he’s been making documentaries like Pina and The Salt of the Earth, which are as visually enthralling as they are insightful on the subject of art and vision.

And now, Wenders — an ex-Catholic who has become something of a Christian mystic — has turned his camera directly into the loving gaze of Pope Francis in order to bring his wisdom to moviegoing audiences.

The review I’ve most anticipated is Steven D. Greydanus‘s review for The National Catholic Register. Greydanus is the writer I consult whenever I’m uncertain about the authenticity of mainstream media reporting on anything related to the Catholic church. And sure enough, he has a detailed, nuanced perspective:

If Pope Francis: A Man of His Word isn’t the documentary final word on the 266th pope, in a way it’s something better: It’s a winsome, challenging call to take the Gospel more seriously and to work to make the world around us a little bit better.

Alissa Wilkinson, at Vox, has a similar take: She’s glad the movie exists, but has mixed feelings about Wenders’s accomplishment. She says it’s

less biographical documentary and more a lucid and coherent presentation of Francis’s theological framework, with some exploration of how it springs from the man whose name he adopted, the 13th-century St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis is charming and engaging, and he speaks with conviction and wit. Pope Francis — A Man of His Word isn’t likely to convert any of Francis’s critics, but it might just convince the indifferent that he has something to say to our world.