This anti-biopic by Pablo Larrain focuses on the exile- and excess- of radical poet Pablo Neruda after the second world war in Chile. Luis Gnecco takes the lead role,while Gael Garcia Bernal is the oddly angst-ridden and ineffectual policeman on his trail.
Surrealist twists and riffs on film genre tropes spice the narrative and the whole thing turns meta,as the cop is revealed as a mere construct- just another bourgeois player in Neruda’s vibrant, earthy stanzas.
Gnecco is wonderful, with huge flashing brown eyes, even as he drinks, tomcats around in whorehouses and looks down on fawning admirers-a flawless hero he is not-sometimes amiable, often unbearable. Yet there there are real moments of tenderness-for example, an encounter with a transvestite singer in a brothel is beautiful, cementing his status as defender of outsiders everywhere.
Delia Del Carril, his artist lover is sensitively portrayed by Mercedes Moran as his equal and confidante, his ‘little ant’ with a big heart and wry smile , and Bernal is glorious as ever,displaying true poignancy and some Chaplin-esque comic timing.
Densely packed with ideas,lyrical and lusty,the film throws some exciting obstacles, only for the viewer to be rewarded with a denouement that is as unexpected as it’s moving.
Moreover, it is a profound meditation on the stories we weave in order to keep legacies alive, and the myth-making in subversion . And not a single montage in sight. See it, and see what cinema can do.
GFF continues until February 26th