A glorious mix of history and imagination, NERUDA is the enthralling new film from multi award-winning director Pablo Larraín (No, Jackie), a lavishly mounted and grandly entertaining depiction of the manhunt for exiled Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda.
It’s 1948, and the Cold War has reached Chile. Following the President’s outlawing of communism, Neruda (played by Luis Gnecco, bearing a remarkable likeness) and his artist wife Delia (Mercedes Morán) are forced into hiding. Beloved by the populace, they slip underground and are pursued by incompetent, vainglorious police inspector Oscar Peluchonneau (the superb Gael García Bernal), hoping to make a name for himself by capturing the country’s most infamous fugitive.
Whilst life on the run holds little charm for the cultured and hedonistic Neruda, he uses the opportunity to reinvent his work and life, leaving clues for his pursuer designed to make their game of cat-and-mouse even more dangerous and thrilling. Thwarting Peluchonneau at every turn, it’s almost as if the detective is the man Neruda would have written to chase himself…
Blending visual grandeur and literary wit, NERUDA is a beguiling reinvention of the ‘standard’ cinematic biography. Playfully confounding expectations at every turn, the film offers a startling rumination on the split between the person and persona, the man and the artist.
Gripping, funny and ingeniously conceived, this is undoubtedly Larraín’s finest achievement to date.
“Fabulous. If it’s possible to make a great film about a great poet, this is certainly that film. Larraín delivers a wonderfully satisfying experience.
Neruda is all of the following: unreliable as history, but immensely informative about the times and the man; entertaining as comedy, but still deeply melancholy about the politics of Latin America in the 1950s; drop-dead gorgeous as Chilean travelogue (including a snowy escape across the Andes), but imbued with sacred respect for the words, and the work it took to produce them.”Paul Byrnes, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD