Cine-File contributor Kyle Cubr reviews Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda”

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In a year where Pablo Larrain is best known to American audiences for his film JACKIE, NERUDA slides in at the end of 2016 with a bang. Following the political life and exile of famed poet Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco), the film is an atypical biopic. In the late 1940s, Pablo Neruda is a Senator in the Chilean political machine who is discovered to be a communist and forced to go on the lam. Chased by the son of a well-known Chilean police detective (Gael García Bernal), what follows is an amalgamation and deconstruction of historical facts plus a romanticized narrative from the viewpoint of Neruda. Larrain’s film seeks to blur the lines of the past and humanizes the poet in profound manner. What’s most striking about the film is the dual-tiered plot lines, one following the titular character and the other Bernal’s character and the way in which they both manage to coexist despite their obvious differences. The film’s verisimilitude brings Neruda’s legacy to the forefront: will he be remembered as the master wordsmith he was or as the Red political figure who fled his country as an outcast? In the end, NERUDA is a film that delves into the backstory of one of the most influential poets of the 20th century, encapsulating not only his impact on the common people but also his effect on Chile’s political climate in the 1940s.

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