With apologies in advance to Patricio Guzmán and Alejandro Jodorowsky, Pablo Larraín might be Chile’s greatest working filmmaker today. Certainly in the narrative field (Guzmán is a documentary guy), Larraín is practically unparalleled, though it should be said with Sebastian Silva (“Nasty Baby,” “The Maid”), Sebastián Lelio (“Gloria”) and others doing terrific work, Chilean cinema has never been healthier.
Larraín is firing on all cylinders. After completing his Pincochet/Chilean ‘70s military coup trilogy (“Tony Manero,” “Post Mortem,” and “No”) and landing in Cannes or Venice for every picture, the filmmaker pivoted from developing American films (a “Scarface” remake) and knocked out “The Club” earlier this year which he wrote and shot in a matter of months, only to win the Grand Jury Prize in Berlin (our glowing review from Berlin called it “astounding”).
From the looks of his newest film, Larraín isn’t slowing down. He’s already midway through production on “Neruda,” a noir-ish cat-and-mouse tale starring Gael García Bernal as a police inspector charged with hunting down the dissident Chilean Nobel prize-winning poet, diplomat and politician Pablo Neruda, played by Luis Gnecco (HBO’s “Profugos”).
Written by Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderon, (Sundance 2012 World Cinema Jury Prize winner for “Violeta Went to Heaven”), “Neruda” reunites Pablo Larraín with many of the team from the Oscar-nominated “No,” including García Bernal, Gnecco, regular acting collaborators Alfredo Castro, Alejandro Goic, Jaime Vadell and Marcelo Alonso, as well as Roberto Farías from “The Club.” Here’s the official synopsis:
It’s 1948 and the Cold War has made its way to Chile. In Congress, Senator Pablo Neruda criticizes the government. The President calls for his impeachment, delegating his arrest to Óscar Peluchonneau, a tough Investigations Police prefect.
Neruda and his wife, the painter Delia del Carril, fail in their attempt to escape the country, and are forced into hiding. But with Peluchonneau hot on his heels, the clandestine Pablo Neruda becomes a poet turned into a weapon. He writes the ‘Canto General’ and makes secret nighttime excursions. The legend of the poet pursued by the state grows, and in Europe, artists led by Pablo Picasso clamor for his freedom.
Neruda uses Peluchonneau to reinvent himself, seeing the opportunity to become both a symbol for liberty and a literary legend. But with hunter and prey so close they breathe the same air, becoming one, it becomes clear that the prefect determined to follow Neruda to the end of the world will not make it easy for him.
Production is due to wrap mid-August, so we’ll assume you’ll see this one on the festival circuit in 2016 and possibly in Cannes. Two first look photos from the film above, and below.
8/19/15 Update: More new photos have arrived.