Rated: R for sexuality/nudity and some language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: December 16, 2016 Released by: The Orchard
This fully subtitled hybrid of a biopic chronicles a chapter in the intriguing life of an exiled lauded poet and senator who turned to the Communist Party and the underground.
Neruda comes from the talented Pablo Larrain (No, Jackie) who, along with co-scenarist Guillermo Calderon, devises an interpretation of the post-World War II period with good share of resourcefulness. In a clear, fair-minded way that gives a surreal, humanistic aura to a talent, as well as a haughty libertine (Luis Gnecco, who resembles Neruda) who left his wife and daughter.
A cat-and-mouse chase develops unusually with celebrity-seeking, dogged inspector Oscar Peluchnneau (Gael Garcia Bernal) on orders from President Videla (Alfredo Castro) to track down the man with a large task force on the lam from a government wrought with malfeasance. He'll face impeachment for charges against the legislative bodies of political leanings toward the superpower that is America and is up on charges but fails to appear before a committee hearing.
The risk-taking, loose construct swirls with ardor and life often not seen in the genre as epistles remitted to Europe to the likes of Picasso (Emilio Gutierrez Caba) helps to add to his burgeoning myth. Oscar gets detective novels from the reinvigorating poet as Bernal projects a unique 'Javert' on the case trying to figure out whether he's the hero or the underlying character.
Mercedes Moran appears as a comforting Argentine socialite for the great poet questioned by some for seeking asylum far away while allies are persecuted in his native Santiago area. Larrain shrewdly elicits much internalization from Bernal and Gnecco to compelling effect as a historical noir morphs into a western allegory with much flair. Neruda may not go to the depths that intensified and personified an individual synonymous with liberty for his people, but it's quite a unique, vibrant take on an escape from arrest.