Simply put, filmmaker Pablo Larrain has had a terrific 2016. In February, his micro-budgeted indie about disgraced Chilean priests, “The Club,” finally saw release (it won the Silver Bear in Berlin the year before) and two other Larrain-helmed pictures debuted at acclaimed film festivals. And while “Jackie,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival to much acclaim, has sucked up much of the conversation thanks to its awards-worthy performance by Natalie Portman, there’s another, equally potent Pablo Larrain-directed film on the way.
Featuring an excellent and transformative turn by Gael Garcia Bernal, Larrain’s “Neruda” premiered at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight earlier this year and goes into limited release on Friday. An imaginative, metafictional fable, “Neruda” is a surreal cat and mouse game where a fictitious (and ambitious) police offer (Garcia) goes on the hunt for dissident Chilean poet/diplomat Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) when he attempts to flee the nation from political prosecution. Fundamentally political, Neruda is a communist, Óscar Peluchonneau (Garcia), the detective is fascistic, and the movie really focuses on identity, as the distinction between the two men begins to ambiguously blur. And if voice-over can be a crutch (90% of the time), credit “Neruda” with having the best V.O. of 2016; a dreamy, meditative soliloquy about communism, tyranny, self-doubt and ambition.
Earlier this year, we spoke to both Bernal and Larrain following a screening of “Neruda” at the New York Film Festival. Listen to that conversation below.