Neruda Screen 82 of 28 reviews

Neruda

2016

Neruda Poster
  • Proof, as if any was needed, that art needn't lose an ounce of its power to its steadfast political conviction. That the two may enrich and empower each other and create something unforgettably human and poetic. Overshadowed by now by its more famous cousin, this is the Larraín film all others should be judged against, though he hasn't yet made a bad or dishonest film. It is as hopeful and tastily byzantine as Tony Manero was bleak and uncomplicated.

  • As the left-wing son of right-wing parents, Larrain is no stranger to irony or complexity. Neruda doesn't merely unpacks the idea of the hero as saint; it dismisses the whole notion of an integrated personality. Yet if Larrain never saw a facile myth he didn't love to dismantle, he's no cynic either in this tough, tender portrait of a man, at once an opportunist and an idealist, with Chile's best and worst selves duking it out inside and around him.

  • In the tradition of Haynes and Whitman, Larraín finds the best view of the poet isn’t head-on, but refracted. He shows us the politician directly but the poet in a mirror. That mirror image is the other half of the chase, the made-up detective who’s the heart and soul of the film.

  • While its tricksiness may set some viewers’ teeth on edge, it’s a film that’s very congruent with a tradition of self-reflexiveness in Latin American literary fiction. Think of it not as a movie about Pablo Neruda, but as an experimental novel masquerading as a movie about Neruda, and this film begins to make a bold, perverse kind of sense.

  • Although informed by the busy workings of history, politics and personal affairs, “Neruda” proceeds like a light-footed chase thriller filtered through an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” by the end of which the audience is lost in a crazily spiraling meta-narrative. Who exactly is the star and author of that narrative is one of the film’s more enticing mysteries.

  • Bernal, swallowed by his fedora and his 1940s suit, becomes a character written by Neruda in this magical-realist fable reminiscent of the weirder, less accommodating films of Raúl Ruiz. Sometimes Neruda beautifies fascism in a nostalgic glow of tertiary color the way The Conformist did, sometimes it uglifies it along the lines of Cronenberg’s version of Naked Lunch. It brings to the cinema the kind of literary biography that traces only a short period in its subject’s life.

  • Neruda must assume a variety of disguises to evade his would-be captor, and yet one truth remains constant: He is a man who, as President González Videla explains, “could pull a piece of a paper out of his pocket and 10,000 workers would go silent to hear him recite poetry in that voice of his.” Neruda forgoes slavish re-creation — the kind of mimesis that sinks Larraín’s recently released, baffling biohazard Jackie — for a more audacious consideration of language, literature and iconicity.

  • Little of Neruda’s actual poetry is heard in the film, in part because of a recurring tragicomic joke that most people only want to hear the one poem over and over anyway – Neruda’s greatest hit – and because the film proposes to alchemise it into the texture of cinema itself, as Larraín dances through expressive refrains and motifs, alternating realism and hyperrealism, grit and romanticism, solid historical account and flight of metaphoric fancy.

  • Larraín’s account of Pablo Neruda’s months on the lam after the Chilean Communist party was declared illegal in 1948 is a witty, noir-ish political thriller that, albeit poetic, owes more to Jorge Luis Borges than it does to its subject.

  • I was startled to discover that Peluchonneau and Neruda are parallel protagonists... Parallel protagonists largely play out their roles independently, but they are aware of each other and fascinated with each other... There is a distinct touch of magical realism about Neruda, one that fits in well with the art cinema’s departure from mainstream commercial cinema. It does leave you puzzled in a satisfying way.

  • A brilliantly inventive rethinking of the ‘biopic’ and reveals a filmmaker at the peak of his powers... The film has all the feel for period and historical characters we’ve come to expect from Larraín, in the service of an intelligent, visually stunning reflection on the gaps between person and persona, history and legend.

  • Larraín may not leave us with much of a sense of who the “real” Pablo Neruda was in Neruda, beyond what he offered in his written words. But by giving us privileged glimpses into Jackie’s multiple identities, Jackie suggests that her carefully cultivated public image may have been her greatest work of art, for better and for worse.

  • Larraín uses Óscar’s existential quandary as a thematic conceit. For Neruda, on the other hand, Larraín portrays him as a shape shifter of identities: the poet, the senator, the comrade, the socialite, the lover. Larraín makes a mosaic out of Neruda.

  • It is a sensuous life, a mannered, baroque style of dreamlike artifice in which the camera rarely stops pacing and the editing steers clear of linearity. More to the point, it nearly revises the thinking about what a literary film can be, the limits to which one can go to define the relationship between author and fiction. It is also just right for a man well-known for his wandering, outside and in.

  • The film feels like it could've been written by Roberto Bolaño, Chile's most famous prose writer and Neruda's successor in both his aesthetics and his politics, or Jorge Luis Borges, the continent's first and greatest postmodern prosaist. It shares their fondness for detective stories and playfully manipulating history, sportively reworking Latin America's tragic past as a means of coming to terms with decades of bloodshed and civil unrest.

  • “The poet tends to believe that the world is something he imagined,” is a line that lends credence to the idea that with Neruda, Larraín has created a film that, above all else, abstractly evokes the essence of his subject. It is a privilege to witness the awesome spectacle of one great man interpreting another and in this way creating a sub-genre of magical realism: poetical realism.

  • It’s more than a cool idea for a biopic. It exercises the notion of using art not to flatter but to investigate... The film is meta-sorta-fiction, always calling attention to its own artificiality. But its sincere about wanting to do the impossible: understand, perhaps even forgive, someone who stands for everything you stand against.

  • Neruda is ultimately a very different film than Jackie, and arguably the bolder of the two. Its palette is darker, even as its sensibility is less somber, more playful... Rather than having characters merely talk about the distinction between grim reality and expedient myth, this film builds that distinction into its very structure, giving Neruda a fictional antagonist ostensibly invented by Neruda himself. It’s a thriller in which the thrills are manufactured, and everybody on screen knows it.

  • Circumventing stale biopic conventions, the film is both an ironic creation and wry deconstruction of history, myth and legend, one that calls attention to its artifice at every turn. It’s an inspired conceit, and for those on its very specific wavelength, it’s also utterly hilarious, using both its metatextual trappings and García Bernal’s cannily self-effacing performance to maximum effect.

  • As radical a reinvention of the biopic as Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, Neruda is Larraín’s most conceptual and also his most demanding film yet. Like Haynes, Larraín attempts to create a hybrid between his subject’s art and biography, and, like Haynes’ film, Larraín’s is generally more fascinating than it is enjoyable.

  • It sometimes veers off on tonally confusing tangents, but its central focus develops an absorbing form of existential intrigue: Is this historical fiction or a meditation on the process of writing history? In its shrewdest moments, "Neruda" argues that they're one and the same. Its finale erupts with an operatic montage that unites real events with the obsessive desire of these characters to put themselves at the center of a public memory — and its very existence proves that they pulled it off.

  • The point of it all being that history and poetry are not possible without personified antimonies, real or imagined. “Neruda” does not make this point in any particularly convincing way, despite excellent performances by Luis Gnecco as the title character, a stolid Gael Garcia Bernal as his pursuer, and Mercedes Morán as Delia. “Neruda” is, like all the Larrain films I’ve seen, laudable in its ambitions and ultimately unsatisfying in its execution.

  • As a thriller of politics and poetry, and as a study of an unlikely symbiotic relationship, Neruda certainly has its felicities, but throughout Larraín and Calderón prove all too eager to point out the sheer artifice of their endeavor... After a while, it’s hard to shake the impression that Neruda might’ve been better served as the very type of movie that Larraín seems so strenuously opposed to making: a conventional historical narrative.

  • What starts out as the detective’s quest to make his name by catching this celebrity fugitive becomes something more fascinating, intellectually at least: an attempt by this fictional creation to wrest control from his creator, Neruda himself... If the real Neruda is perhaps deliberately obscured by Larraín’s playful surface... no such distance exists in the director’s perspective on Jackie Kennedy in Jackie.

  • Larraín’s DP keeps breaking out the stretchiest, blurriest and least prepossessing lenses and back-lighting like Janusz Kaminski on a bender, with more random flares and momentary blow-outs than in 10 years of aggregate late Spielberg. Sunk by arbitrary visual retread and intolerable voiceover, Neruda is a failure of great ambition.

  • Rewriting the myth of a national figure as Neruda is, no doubt, a risky project—and the marketing of the film for its national premiere emphasizes more the thriller aspect of the film than the biographical one—but below the game and the metacinematic reflection, there’s still an intellectual disdain. The film plays with the myth, creates a darker version of the poet, in order to do…what?

  • It's suggested that the inspector, who also serves as the film's quasi-reliable narrator, is the man Neruda would have written to chase himself, but these metafictional fillips play as more of a gambit to shake things up than a way of paying homage to Neruda, the writer, whom the movie never really invests with the sort of specificity you expect from a biographical film.

  • Likely, Neruda is supposed to be more myth than man at this point, but the abject terror on García Bernal’s face is nothing short of ridiculous—I burst out laughing. The real trouble is that Neruda is never regarded as anything but a figure of mythic status by his allies.

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