The latest in a string of portraits of post-war Chile, Neruda charts the odyssey of the communist politician and poet-agitator Pablo Neruda as he attempts to stay one step ahead of government hunters. For Neruda, it’s a game. He wanders the streets in a careless disguise, embraces the poor, visits brothels and sees this latest chapter in his life as prime fodder for verse and memoir. He emerges as a self obsessed figure wrapped up in his own legend.
It’s a fiction that mystifies even the taciturn cop (Gael García Bernal) on his trail. This is 1940s Chileas it staggers inexorably towards dictatorship. All the indicators are there. Blasé Neruda (Luis Gnecco) glides through his banishment with a sense that he is beyond being caught; Bernal as Pelucchoneauis a cypher – an instrument of the state always struggling to understand his mocking adversary. Heavily reliant on Neruda’s poetry, this slow moving drama is most redolent of Joseph Losey’s turgid The Assassination of Trotsky from 1972: its undoing, however, is an over-reliance on talk rather than action. Epicness evades it.
Neruda by Pablo Larraín is out on DVD. Released by Network Releasing.
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1. Still from Neruda.