Director: Pablo Larraín
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Mercedes Morán
Release Date: December 16, 2016

If you haven’t heard of Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet famous for his sensual love poetry, you need to get cultured, son. And besides being a poet, Neruda was also an important historical figure as a huge influential communist senator in pre-Pinochet Chile. Neruda is not your typical Lifetime biopic about the tortured life of an artist—instead, it relishes in the same love of life that Neruda himself explored in his writing. It follows the fictional Oscar Peluchonneau (Bernal), a wiry, obsessive police officer tasked with finding Neruda when he is impeached and goes underground after Communism is banned in Chile (that did actually happen). Larraín’s camera has a gauzy, surreal levity that stylistically mirrors the plot’s playful artifice; it is a story about a story, asking at every turn what it means to control a narrative. The film revels in its contradictions: Neruda is both a hypocritical fat guy and a compassionate artist; Peluchonneau is one-track-minded but also as entranced by the idea of the poet as the common workers who are inspired by Neruda’s revolutionary words. —Julia Pimentel