An apt and not entirely uncritical telling of Neruda's flight into exile with elements of a slightly hackneyed magical realism. The movie's faults however are ultimately what save it from mediocrity; it is a bit heavyhanded and a bit pretentious and a bit too heartfelt and therefore impressively true to its namesake.
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
Bel exercice de style, lyrique, excentrique et littéraire, servi par un formidable acteur - Luis Gnecco -, une magnifique photographie... qui dresse du poète et de sa traque un récit légendaire. plus poétique que politique. Décalé, à la hauteur de Neruda, assurément.
2.5 stars. Clearly a finely made film, but the combination of elliptical editing, interposed narration and very wide-angle photography made me feel queasy in the same way that handheld shaky-cam seems to make others feel. Sort of like if 'Adaptation' were a meditation on national identity. Perversely Borgesian considering political antipathy. I liked that it seemed to mine pathos for bathos. A curious, loping thing.
The narrative framing (in particular making Peluchonneau the narrator) is ingenious and offers a reminder that there was no happy ending in real life for either Neruda or Chile. Larraín is a masterful creator of political drama and here he manages to make a film noir of Neruda's escape, which gets stranger and stranger as it progresses. The second great biopic by Larraín this year.
NERUDA is an anti-biopic. It is a unique existential take on fiction that actually deconstructs most biopics. Gael García Bernal is a sea of emotions (as always). The period details are incredible. So is the cinematography (great use of JJ Abrams-esque lens flares).