Directed by Pablo Larraín, who many will know best for bringing us ‘Jackie’ earlier this year, ‘Neruda’ is a biographical drama focusing on Communist Senator Pablo Neruda. When Neruda becomes a target for the authorities he is forced to go on the run. Pursued by fascist police chief Oscar Peluchonneau a game of cat & mouse ensues.
The film begins rather abruptly with little introduction as to what the narrative was really about. Some context would have been useful to allow audiences to really settle into the film, if you’ve prior knowledge of this political figure this won’t be necessary but I’m sure that won’t be the case for all viewers. However, once the film enters the main body of the narrative the film becomes far more engaging. It’s the arrival of Police Chief Peluchonneau and the start of the long chase that really kick starts things. Peluchonneau plays an interesting role in that he is often heard to be narrating over other character’s dialogue when he himself isn’t present. I enjoyed this more unique way of story-telling as it offered an insight that wouldn’t have been present without it. It was quite amusing at times but mostly I found it impressive how it was woven into the existing dialogue. This dialogue is drenched in the main character’s poetry which he is famous for. The overbearing inclusion of such a volume of this though became relentless after some time and lead to my attention flagging in places.
Furthermore, over time the chase itself grew to be a tad dull, with little suspense or action to keep it’s audience drawn in. Thankfully there are several encounters with secondary characters along the way which fill the void of entertainment sometimes left by the main narrative. Discussions about arts & politics offer thought provoking discussion for both characters and audience. On a more technical level there are things to appreciate too. I thoroughly enjoyed the use of green screen for when the characters were traveling. This gave the film a dated effect that suited the tone & era of the story. The finale sports some stunning & bright cinematography too, which is refreshing change from the duller colour palettes present in the rest of the film. The ending also redeems the main narrative slightly as well. The heightened level of action and the return of the suspense from the opening of the chase easily drew me back into the proceedings helping the film to finish on a positive note.
‘Neruda’ isn’t the fastest paced chase film you’ll see and whilst the poetic & literary themes present weren’t for me there will be many viewers who enjoy this slant. There are some engaging moments along the way, coupled with interesting methods of story-telling and at times a very appealing aesthetic. I’d definitely recommend the film to those who have an already invested interest in the figure or this period of history but otherwise potentially not.
Rating – 6/10
Question: What is your favourite cat & mouse style chase film?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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