Told with calculated poise and insight, Neruda is the story of real life Chilean, Nobel Prize-winning poet and politician Pablo Neruda and those who inhabited his historically poignant world.
As the story goes, Neruda is forced underground in 1948 when his native Chile outlaws communism. Being an unrepentant hedonist and staunch communist, he is chased by the authorities—and this is where things get interesting.
One of the main strengths in Neruda, of which there are many, is the direction of filmmaker Pablo Larraín. He concocts a visual journey that is both fairytale and fact, all wrapped up in an enjoyable bow. Larraín spins his pseudo-truth with a deft hand as he weaves realities with poetic fictions, re-telling the tale of Neruda with the prowess of the man himself. Like a cross between The French Connection and Pan’s Labyrinth (without the fantastic monsters), Neruda is itself a poetic metaphor of who the man was and how he affected a nation.
Gael García Bernal is wonderful as the hapless inspector Óscar Peluchonneau, and Mercedes Morán’s Delia compliments Luis Gnecco’s Neruda with such aplomb, one feels they’re actually looking back in time watching the lives unfold.
From writer to writer, Guillermo Calderón did Neruda proud with his sleight of plot whimsy and powerful dialogue. He captured both the realism of Neruda’s influence, as well as the fevered pitch of what he meant to the working class. Both hero and antihero, Calderón painted Neruda with a powerful affection that compliments the late Chilean poet’s real life accomplishments.