Pablo Neruda, I suspect. But unless they are very familiar with the man's history, much of NERUDA, a new film from Chilean director Pablo Larraín, whose new film Jackie is also currently playing (and will be reviewed here next week), may strike them as surprising and bizarre. That's just fine, however, because -- from what TrustMovies can gather about Larraín's film -- this is indeed a kind of fantasia of what-if? and what-then?
Guillermo Calderón (of The Club), does in his very nearly completely invented story, is to wrap it all around a real time in Neruda's life (the 1940s) when he had to go on the run from the anti-Communist Chilean authorities who were (as usual and as a few decades later: remember Pinochet?) in the pocket of their North America "teachers." In filming Calderón's screenplay, Señor Larraín, pictured at right, has given us his most poetic movie so far.
Luis Gnecco (shown at left). Gnecco captures the artist, the politician, and the man equally well, succeeding in making us understand how Neruda was able to concoct the myth that surrounded him via the help of both his friends/fans and even more so with the help of his enemies.
Gael García Bernal (below), who plays a fictional character named Óscar Peluchonneau, a full-of-himself policeman who is given the job of finding and arresting (or maybe even killing) Neruda.
Mercedes Morán, a beautiful actress with wonderful access to emotional depths (shown above), plays Neruda's woman, and she's a pleasure to watch in all her scenes. Also in the cast is Larraín regular, Alfredo Castro, in a role small enough that you might miss that notable face.
The Orchard and Participant Media, running 107 minutes, in Spanish with English subtitles -- opens tomorrow, Friday, December 16, in New York City at the IFC Center and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Royal, and in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. In the weeks to come it will hit a number of other cities, too. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates.