After the fantastic biopic, No, it was with high expectation that I sat down to Pablo Larrain’s new film, which centres around political poet and communist, Pablo Neruda. Neruda which is a somewhat unusual dramatized movie of the poet reminds us of the format of a dramatization with fantastically entertaining acting from both Luis Gnecco and Gael Garcia Bernal.
Films such as Ray and Walk the Line have made us as viewers loathe the general film bio, with a predictable formula and obvious portrayal that will cause many to barf but Larrain has a style and technique which de-Hollywoodises the whole process and allows his audience’s minds to meander and question certain variables within the plot and narrative.
In his previous film, Larrain took on Gael Garcia Bernal as a fictional ad man working during the Pinochet referendum in 2012 drama No. Obviously enthralled with the Mexican actor’s talent he hired Bernal again in this ingenious and charming drama about the poet and senator and his time in exile in Chile.
Bernal plays eccentric detective, Óscar Peluchonneau, in search of Neruda, after he’s threatened with impeachment for accusing the government of abandoning communist ideals to appease the US. The two are sealed in a wonderful piece of fiction that’s part lore and part fact, given that the pursuer is simply a “supporting character.”
Larrain’s film delicately handles, along with screenwriter Guillermo Calderón, the narrative with a tongue-in-cheek tone, yet also a witty, meta take which reminds the viewer of notions of characters and story. Luis Gnecco who not only bears a remarkable aesthetic likeness to the poet, but displays an enjoyment of this role sending detective crime novels which do cause him to question the substance of his existence.
The realistic approach to the prolific writer is refreshing. Neruda is yes, a significant idealist, a talented poet, yet he’s also conceited and a snob. There’s a insightful interaction when he’s approached by a Comrade who questions his elevated status and how this goes against the ethos of the party. Without raising this poet on pedestal, Larrain subtly hints at the character of Neruda, whilst also throwing in this intriguing twist of narrative.
Neruda, both film and character makes many risky decisions and, both are defiant when it comes to playing by the rules. As a viewer take that risk and watch this film. You will be wonderfully surprised.
Neruda is out on general release in the UK from 7th April 2017.