On the death of the pope, the conclave meets in Rome. Early ballots end with black smoke, since none of the main candidates reaches the quorum. After several rounds of voting, Cardinal Melville is elected, though he had not previously been considered a frontrunner.At the moment of the public announcement, with the faithful are gathered in St. Peter's Square and the cardinal proto-deacon ready to announce the name of the new pope, the newly elected pope has a panic attack and fails to appear on the balcony. The College of Cardinals, calls in the psychoanalyst Professor Brezzi (whose role is played by director Nanni Moretti). The cardinals react to the psychoanalyst with some suspicion, but still allow him to examine the new pope. Brezzi, in the presence of the cardinals, tries to initiate a psychotherapy session which, however, fails to reveal anything to explain the depression and helplessness that plague the pontiff. Brezzi reveals that his ex-wife is also a psychoanalyst and the newly elected pope is taken secretly to see her, but escapes his minders and runs away during a walk. At David di Donatello the movie wins the prizes : best actor Michel Piccoli best supporting actress Margherita Buy best director Nanni Moretti best supporting actor Renato Scarpa.