The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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Inventive, intelligent, and beautifully filmed, Neruda transcends the traditional biopic structure to look at the meaning beyond the details of its subject's life.
All Critics (148)
| Top Critics (24)
| Fresh (138)
| Rotten (10)
There's a comic edge to [Gael Garcia Bernal's] performance that steals the movie. In his bumbling, hapless way, he's a more sympathetic character than Neruda himself.
Sweeping, poignant, bizarre, funny and unique.
[An] indulgent and rather fey reverie.
"Neruda" is a dream of Chile, of what it was and might have been, brought to the screen by a master dreamer.
"Neruda" is a delightful mishmash of two disparate genres: the biopic and film noir.
A sumptuous puzzle of a movie that takes a turbulent period in the life of the Chilean poet and politician and turns it into a fable about fame and the power of words.
In terms of style and plot, the delight of this film is not in its destination but in its journey.
Chilean director Pablo Larraín turns a standard biopic inside out in this stylish thriller with a literary bent.
Beautifully shot, ranging from the interior of brothels, to the streets of Santiago and the snowy heights of the Andes, Neruda is a satirical take on the legend of a great man, warts, fantasies and all.
It's much more interested in examining the meaning self, how system of belief shape our existence regardless whether or not we conform. I'll take that over a generic biopic anyday.
Larraín's approach feels far too redundant. The director stacks the deck against Oscar just so he can watch the young man go from one kind of zealot to another, and provide his gluttonous hero with even more worship.
Most of all, it is about the transforming power of art, how Neruda's own works fire the artistic sensibilities...
According to Picasso, as depicted in this film, the poet Neruda was the most important communist of his day. One who gave a voice to the victims of fascist oppression in Chile, and in the world. The biopic doesn't reject that idea, but dilutes it. Minimising its portrayal of the deprivations that Neruda challenged under threat of his own freedom, it paints him philosophically. It sets up a kind of Marxist "dialectic", in which Neruda and his fascist persecutor are the creators of each other, even brothers in a metaphysical sense. It concentrates on Neruda's bourgeois inclinations, quotes often a romantic passage, has him making poetic statements as he goes, and dots the screenplay with his expeditions out of hiding to visit brothels; sometimes he's disguised as a priest. The film cuts regularly to debauchery. By contrast, his persecutor is a lower class, illegitimate upstart who has no life, whose intellect is obsessed with this love/hate bond, and who chases Neruda across impossible distances in a kind of via crucis. To Neruda's devilish character, he becomes a Christ figure. Supporting characters engage in oblique arguments about the politics and what Neruda symbolises. As long as there was Neruda, the fascism would not die, and vice versa. But with all this theorising, how much do we learn about Neruda, and how much about the filmmakers' game? The show is like an honours student essay, that wants to get a top mark by playing subversively and idiosyncratically with the main point - not only the Marxist one, but presumably Neruda's as well, so that in the end it doesn't teach you much: who can say how much of this is historically accurate? The product may though deliver for anyone who thinks that Neruda's communism should be watered down, regardless.
Intelligent, humorous and inventive, Larraín's film is especially impressive due to the way it uses a cat-and-mouse game as the basis for a metalinguistic exercise instead of being a conventional biography about the poet, and it has some very fine performances by the whole cast.
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