Neruda (2016) – movie review

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Movie Review by EDF

Stars: Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Mercedes Morán
Director: Pablo Larraín

When you go out to your local cinema and spend your hard earned cash on a movie about the renowned poet Pablo Neruda, you hope to be entertained and gain an understanding of the man. With Pablo Larrain’s version of Neruda, you get one of the two. Yes, it is entertaining but you are even less enlightened as to who the man really was. This movie successfully blurs the line between reality and fiction to the point that you either don’t care about Neruda or you enjoy what you see in front of you, without checking the side or rear view mirrors.

NerudaChile, 1948. Senator Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) is betrayed by his government when they decide to outlaw the Communist Party, which he is a member of. President Gonzalez Videla impeaches Neruda who barely escapes with his wife Delia Del Carril (Mercedes Moran). Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael Garcia Bernal) is the police prefect who is assigned to arrest Neruda. With all the borders closed off, Neruda and his wife are forced into hiding. Moving from town to town, whenever the locals find out where Neruda is hiding, he is invited to recount his poems that stir up passions in his followers. Seeing this reaction makes Neruda ever more confident in that he is untouchable and can stay a step ahead of Peluchonneau, to the point that it is almost like he is goading the police prefect to catch him.

This is not the first time Neruda has been featured in a movie. Anyone who saw the Italian movie Il Postino will remember Neruda turning up at a small Italian island and befriending the postman, who was his only customer. There was a sense of a man with principles and values that was reflected in the poetry that was featured. Just as with Il Postino, Neruda is part fiction. Yes, he was on the run from the police but what happens in-between fact and fiction turns into a road movie caper. So we end up with close shaves, and pondering as to the kind of man his hunter, his potential captor, is. When Neruda does appear in front of locals to perform his poetry, he seems to repeat a select few. Even though this is a beautifully shot movie and the settings are gorgeous, the movie’s pacing can be a bit erratic. You end up wondering whether events on screen actually happened or not, which takes you away from enjoying the movie. So take the movie as it is and do not look for any real history lesson or understanding of who Neruda was.

4 out of 6 stars

Update: Neruda will be available on Blu-ray, DVD, and iTunes on the 10th July 2017