TIFF 2016: Our Review of ‘Neruda’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, Theatrical, TIFF 2016 by - September 11, 2016
TIFF 2016: Our Review of ‘Neruda’

A cultural icon, political force and a beloved poet all rolled into one; Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) is also the most famous communist in post-WWII Chile and when the political tides shift, he is forced underground with a perseverant police inspector (Gael García Bernal) hot on his trail.

With Neruda, director Pablo Larrain takes us on somewhat of an existential and intuitive ride that while not necessarily historically accurate allowed for us to go on a very literary and lyrical ride.

Working together with writer Guillermo Calderon for the second time in a row, Larrain crafts a narrative that hinges on the power of the words that are spoken by these characters.  It plays in almost an operatic feel as we have these two very distinct characters dueling at each other, not necessarily through direct action but through words and it plays in an almost ‘meta’ fashion at times.  The nature of the bio pic is being reinvented here, making it experiential and allowing it to be more intellectually playful then standard enjoyable.  Larrain leads it all by making sure we never feel too grounded in any realities of the story through some obvious cinematic nods and tricks to have it feel almost like a visual fable.

While Gnecco is fun as the enigmatic Neruda; playing it half as a figure for social change and half a whore mongering hedonist but it never manages to connect on an emotional level.  Even the stalwart Gael Garcia Bernal on the opposite side of this coin as the determined inspector only feels kind of like a prop to the narrative.

Neruda is an interesting little piece of cinema that manages to be a serious look at the history behind these men while being a playfully dark look at this period of time.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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