An investigator launches a search for Pablo Neruda, a Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, who became a fugitive in his own country for his Communist leanings during the 1940s.
Set in 1948, when Neruda was already a national icon, the film sees this year as emblematic of the poet's turbulent, controversial career. From the opening scenes, which show Neruda (Luis Gnecco) holding court over a bacchanal in his luxurious home with his wife, the painter Delia del Carril (Mercedes Morán), Larraín places Neruda in the framework of a detective story, the poet's favourite prose genre, pursued by the fatuous detective Óscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal).
Larraín sets out to capture all the irreconcilable paradoxes and hypocrisies of a prodigious life. Much of ‘Neruda’ follows the poet as he’s forced to reconcile words with actions. He’s a leader to his people but doesn’t know how the working class lives, and Larraín interestingly captures him as someone who devours life’s pleasures, including food and sex.
Larraín has long expressed an interest in the political machinations of the world, whether it’s Pinochet’s story in ‘No’ or the Catholic Church in ‘The Club’, and ‘Neruda’ mixes the historical elements of his filmography with his lyrical side, one that understands that art can be one of the most political forces in the world.