Chile, 1948: Senator Pablo Neruda, diplomat and future Nobel Prize-winning poet, accuses the government of betraying the Communist Party and is swiftly impeached. Pursued by the police, Neruda and his artist wife are forced into hiding and an intimate game of cat and mouse begins.
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“Neruda” is a fascinating piece of cinema, an elegiac and exhilarating chant of refined artistry that reaches the sky not only through the faultless performances by Gnecco and Bernal, but also through an engrossing direction. (4.5 stars)
Larrain's other masterpiece offers a fictional take on the persecution of Pablo Neruda in 40's Chile that offers some inspired lunacy and breathtaking visuals that often brings to mind the controlled madness of the films of Raul Ruiz. The cinematography of Sergio Armstrong is dynamite as is the period detail supplied by the film's artisans. Scripting is excellent as well (Calderon) but Larrain's stamp is evident.
After a screening at the Chicago International Film Festival, Larrain said he set out to create an anti-biopic and that by filtering the story through the eyes of the policeman, the director was able to explore the environment and cosmos surrounding Neruda in a deeper way. The film has a distinct visual identity, and at times the voiceover seems to mimic the cadence of Neruda's poetry.
It's not just about Neruda. It's a biography of a country that was raped, violated, experimented on by the Yankees (the first Neoliberal "experiment"). Augusto Pinochet, the invisible "protagonist" of Larrain's masterpiece Post Mortem, appears here briefly in an uncanny cameo. He is in charge of a concentration camp for Communists. He will soon turn the entire country into a concentration camp. God bless America.
Larrain is a consummate stylist, and then he keeps going. At once I am both moved and appalled by his technique, the beautiful image rendered in a hurdy gurdy. But it also suits the literary ends on display, a construct of national myth, a biopic with a poet's embellishment. It's still Larrain though so Chile's hero film is as much about the villain, in its way about how both necessitate the other & national identity