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It's 1948 and the Cold War has reached Chile. In congress, Senator (and renowned poet) Pablo Neruda (Gnecco) accuses the government of betraying the Communist Party and is swiftly impeached by President Gabriel González Videla (Alfredo Castro). Police Prefect Oscar Peluchonneau (Bernal) is assigned to arrest the poet. Neruda tries to flee the country with his wife, the painter Delia del Carril (Mercedes Morán), but they are forced into hiding, where Neruda writes his epic collection of poems, "Canto General.".] In Europe, the legend of the poet hounded by the policeman grows, and artists led by Pablo Picasso clamor for Neruda's freedom. Neruda sees this struggle with his nemesis Peluchonneau as an opportunity to reinvent himself, and he sets about playing games with the inspector, leaving clues designed to make their conflict more dangerous, and more intimate. In this story of a persecuted poet and his implacable adversary, Neruda recognizes his own heroic possibilities: a chance to become both a symbol for liberty and a literary legend.
"Part fact, part glorious fantasy... In "Neruda," Mr. Larraín steers clear of cradle-to-grave clichés for a formally exciting movie that both places Neruda in a specific world-historical moment and shows him as a poet of the people - of fawning intellectuals, striking workers, adoring prostitutes." – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
"A work of such cleverness and beauty, alongside such power, that it's hard to know how to parcel out praise: script, cinematography, art direction and performances all vie for kudos and awards. Everything suddenly comes together and the audience sits in the cinema feeling both illumnited and floored. Represents the director at his stunning best." – Jay Weissberg, Variety
Chilean director Pablo Larrain is on a hero’s quest to destroy the conventional biopic it seems. He turned the post-assassination days of Jacqueline Kennedy into an atmospheric examination of mythmaking and the public and private self in “Jackie,” and in “Neruda ,” the story of a poet on the run ...