Al­most dis­ap­pears up its own dactyl

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

Pablo Lar­raín’s take on Pablo Neruda’s life mixes the real and the sur­real, but un­for­tu­nately loses touch with its char­ac­ters, writes Don­ald Clarke NERUDA Di­rected by Pablo Lar­raín. Star­ring Luis Gnecco, Gael Gar­cía Ber­nal, Mercedes Morán, Diego Muñoz, Pablo Derqui, Michael Silva. Club, lim­ited re­lease, 107 min There is more talk­ing in Pablo Lar­raín’s beau­ti­ful, frus­trat­ing new film than there was in the same di­rec­tor’s Jackie, but some­how Neruda doesn’t get nearly so close to its sub­ject. Ob­vi­ously, Mrs Kennedy was al­ready a very pub­lic fig­ure. There were fewer gaps to fill in.

But there’s some­thing else. Lar­raín comes at Pablo Neruda from an oblique an­gle. The film is as much about the Chilean poet as it is about an imag­ined po­lice of­fi­cer tasked with track­ing down the com­mu­nist bon viveur be­fore he flees the coun­try. It is a film of dou­bles.

The dreamy Gael Gar­cía Ber­nal, who plays of­fi­cer Os­car Pelu­chon­neau, could hardly look less like Luis Gnecco, who gives us a round and mid­dleaged Neruda, if the two char­ac­ters were of dif­fer­ent species. Both are, how­ever, tied to quests. Both seek to hon­our ver­sions of Chile. Both be­lieve

in their own pu­rity.

The picture be­gins, as it means to go on, with a scene that winds hints of sur­re­al­ism in with real life. We are in a par­lia­men­tary lava­tory so lav­ish one half won­ders if uri­nals have been placed about a Re­gency draw­ing room. Neruda, at that point a se­na­tor, is on the point of fall­ing out with pres­i­dent Gabriel González Videla.

Fol­low­ing his in­evitable de­nun­ci­a­tion, Neruda man­ages to go un­der­ground in the most pub­lic of fash­ions. Ev­ery­where he goes, he leaves traces for Pelu­chon­neau to find.

The film is a de­lib­er­ately arch con­struc­tion. Con­spic­u­ous rear pro­jec­tions in driv­ing se­quences bring us back to early noir. Fed­erico Jusid’s lush score swoops ro­man­ti­cally. The pe­riod de­tail is box-fresh and care­fully primped.

The film does, how­ever, ul­ti­mately threaten dis­ap­pear­ance up its own un­stressed dactyl. Lar­raín is so con­cerned with mak­ing al­le­gor­i­cal poetry that he loses touch with his char­ac­ters and his ob­scurely pur­posed nar­ra­tive.

It’s al­most there. But not quite. Not quite.

Com­mie-hunter Gael Gar­cía Ber­nal (cen­tre) in Neruda

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.