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Neruda goes underground: "Poems of rage and political uncertainty"
"Neruda" (2016 release from Chile; 107 min.) is a movie about the hunt for Communist activist, poet and Senator Pablo Neruda in 1948. As the movie opens, we see Neruda in an argument with another Chilean Senator after Neruda allegedly has insulted Chilean President Gabriele Gonzalez. It's not long before word reaches Neruda that he is about to be impeached, and he has no choice but to go underground and hide. The President appoint a special prosecutor, Oscar Peluchonneau, "to catch Neruda and to humiliate him", in the President's words. At this point we are less than 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is another movie from Chilean director Pablo Larrain, whose other film, "Jackie" starring Natalie Portman, is still in the theaters. Before that, Larrain brought us another political movie, the Oscar-nominated "No". Here Larrain takes a look at the year or so that Neruda, "the most important Communist in the world" someone comments, goes into hiding while the Communist Party is being outlawed in Chile. In that sense, this is NOT a bio-pic about Pablo Neruda: we do not get any background as to how Neruda became so popular or what formed his political ideas or his poetry. The movie comes to us with a voice over from the special prosecutor Oscar Peluchonneau, as he gives his perspective on Neruda. This is quite helpful actually, as we understand better what Neruda was able to accomplish with his writing: they were not just poems of love, but many struggling people recognized themselves in these writing, and hence they became "poems of rage and political uncertainty". Kudos to Louis Gnecco for his performance as Neruda (not to mention the uncanny physical resemblance). Last but not least, the movie's photography is pure eye-candy and in a way the movie is unintentionally one long tourist ad for Chile (in particular the parts that play out in southern Chile).
"Neruda" premiered to universal acclaim at last year's Cannes Film Festival. It finally opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati this weekend. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended nicely, I am happy to report. How this movie did not get nominated for the Best Foreign Language Movie Oscar is beyond me. (There is a good reason why "Neruda" currently holds a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) All that aside, if you are in the mood for an intelligent politically flavored movie about one of Chile's best known politicians and poets, you cannot go wrong with this, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Neruda" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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