Film Review: Neruda

Described by Gabriel García Márquez as the “the greatest poet of the 20th century”, Pablo Neruda was a figurehead for Communism in Chile. Born Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, Neruda was also a politician and diplomat. Towards the end of his life he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but during the late 1940s he had to go into hiding and eventually flee his home country after a crack-down on Communists. In Neruda, Pablo Larraín approaches his life from an unusual angle, which ultimately is inspired.

After Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) publicly lambasts the oppressive administration of President González Videla, a warrant is issued for his arrest. He takes refuge with friends, going into hiding with his lover Delia (Mercedes Morán). The policeman charged with his capture is the dashing Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal). He is led on a merry dance by Neruda who is too stubborn to remain concealed.

Neruda is not your ordinary biographical film. The character of Oscar Peluchonneau is purely an invention. And what a brilliant device he proves to be. The action is split between the pair. We witness the poet brooding and restless, determined to keep on working. Meanwhile, the inspector is hot on his heels in pursuit, but always seems one step behind. Neruda is a fresh new take on biographical drama, bringing one of Chile’s greatest sons to life.

Neruda is out in cinemas from Friday.

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