Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Chile/Argentina/France/Spain/USA, 2016. AZ Films, Ad hoc studios, Casting del Sur, Centre National du Cinema et de L’Image Animee, Elipsis Capital, Fabula, Fondo Audiovisual Corfo, Funny Balloons, Institut Francais, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales, Instituto de Credito Oficial, Instituto de la Cinematografia y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres et du Developpement International, Movistar+, Participant Media, Radio Televisión Española, Reborn Production, Setembro Cine, Televisión Federal, Willies Movies. Screenplay by Guillermo Calderon. Cinematography by Sergio Armstrong. Produced by Renan Artukmac, Peter Danner, Fernanda Del Nido, Juan Pablo Garcia, Axel Kuschevatzky, Juan de Dios Larrain, Ignacio Rey, Gaston Rothschild, Jeff Skoll, Alex Zito. Music by Federico Jusid. Production Design by Estefania Larrain. Film Editing by Herve Schneid. Golden Globe Awards 2016. National Board of Review Awards 2016. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
Pablo Neruda has helped elect Videla to office but now greatly regrets the effort, and despite his Communist party membership making him a target of the president’s efforts to wipe the party out, Neruda maintains his ability to speak his mind about his country’s politics while also wooing the Chilean populace with his romantic, indelibly beautiful poetry. When the party leadership advises him to clear out and go abroad for his own safety, he embarks on a journey towards Argentina and beyond while, hot on his heels, a police officer (Gael Garcia Bernal) chases him. Bernal narrates this hypnotic tale that is as much poetic interpretation of events as it is factual recreation: Bernal is an authority figure who does not doubt his moral responsibility to take Neruda into custody, but you get the impression very quickly that he is as intoxicated by the web the author weaves (leaving behind detective novels as clues for him to find, for instance) as he is allergic to his ideological hypocrisy (for a self-professed red, Neruda sure does enjoy having champagne poured down his throat in brothels). Bernal’s journey through this experience has him bringing the focus onto the role of narrative in our lives, the way that casting our past actions helps us build our images of ourselves; director Pablo Larrain makes it all go down so smoothly thanks to humorous and brisk direction.