Neruda – Film Review
Director: Pablo Larraín
Writer: Guillermo Calderón
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Mercedes Morán
NERUDA is in cinemas on 7 April
This is the story of Pablo Neruda, the Nobel prize winning poet and politician. He joined the Communist party and was branded a traitor immediately after the second world war, becoming a fugitive in his own country. This story is told from two perspectives; the Inspector who has been given the task of finding the fugitive and also that of the poet. We see his various attempts to leave the country with the Inspector chasing behind.
This film was selected as the Chilean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards, but did not receive an overall nomination. The director Pablo Larraín also directed Jackie last year, which was his first film in Hollywood and earned leading lady Natalie Portman an Oscar nomination. You may also know the director’s preview work, the 2012 film ‘No’ (which also starred Gael García Bernal and Luis Gnecco ) and ‘The Club’ form 2015.
The cinematography is very impressive, especially in the scenes with cars and motorbikes where the backgrounds swim in a way reminiscent of Hitchcock films, or others from the 60s and 70s. The murky street and club scenes are film noir at its best. The two main actors carry their elements of the plot with style and both are enjoyable in their respective worlds. There are also a number of very worthwhile smaller characters, each with their own story.
There is something quite earnest about a biopic. We know how they work, they compress a life or a major event into a palatable bite sized chunk. They often change the facts slightly to suit a typical narrative curve but rarely do they veer towards the sublime in a way such as is seen here. It is a blend of film noir and biopic with a touch of metafiction, some madness that moves it away from the conventional. It will possibly be a Marmite moment for some viewers, but if you’re prepared to indulge those involved, it’s a very enjoyable ride.