7:30 PM, 27th September, 2017
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE EMBASSY OF CHILE
Before he started filming on the Oscar-nominated Natalie Portman film Jackie, director Pablo Larrain had actually completed Neruda, but scheduling and level of profile meant the Natalie Portman starrer got released first in most Western countries. Best known before this year for his political drama, No, Larrain is regarded as one of Chile’s greatest filmmakers, documenting the country’s history and current social structure with expertise and flair.
Pablo Neruda (Gnecco) was a poet but also a significant political figure in South America in the 1940s and 1950s. Neruda joined the Communist Party, and was essentially forced underground through the policies of newly elected President Videla. Chief of Police Óscar Peluchonneau (played with considerable aplomb by Bernal) is tasked with hunting down Neruda. He is also the narrator, and there’s obviously a bit of distaste for the lives of the wealthy and powerful.
This cat-and-mouse chase is witty, intense and ambiguous. You aren’t quite sure what is fact and what is fiction, but all the other elements, including the stark visuals and perfect casting, will keep you engaged. I am unfamiliar with the poet himself, but I am assured through the reviews of others that this is a film that he would have approved of.