What do Gael García Bernal, Pablo Larraín, and Pablo Neruda have in common? Well, two of them are Chilean, two are named Pablo, and two worked together on 2012’s Oscar-nominated No, but these three juggernauts of Latin American culture have never had reason to be uttered in the same sentence until now. Because now, Pablo Larraín is shooting a feature about Pablo Neruda starring Gael García Bernal. Yeah, this is huge. Some recently released photos from the set give us a sneak peek at the upcoming feature.
After wrapping up his sin querer, queriendo trilogy on Chile’s brutal Pinochet dictatorship, the brilliant scion of one of Chile’s wealthiest families took on the subject of pedophilia in the Catholic Church with El Club: a devastating chamber piece that picked up important awards at this year’s Berlin Film Fest. Now back in the saddle only months after El Club’s premiere, it seems Larraín is going Hollywood – well, sort of. Los Angeles-based powerhouse indie studio Participant Media will be backing Neruda as part of its recent incursion into the Latin American market.
For years, there’s been speculation about whether the director of chilling festival faves like Tony Manero and Post-Mortem would finally make the jump to Tinseltown, but thus far nothing’s come to fruition. (We’re still waiting on the Scarface reboot.) Now with Neruda it seems Larraín’s exploring an interesting middle ground between broad commercial appeal and the socially-relevant Chilean stories that he’s always favored. Indeed, Neruda seems to be operating in much more traditional genre territory than we’re used to from Larraín, and he’s doubtless brought his old collaborator Gael García Bernal on board to keep investors happy without sacrificing raw acting talent.
The screenplay, penned by renowned Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón, will follow two years in the life of the Nobel Prize-winning poet as he lives on the run from right-wing authorities in a politically polarized, Cold War-era Chile. Fans of Larraín’s filmography will be pleased to see some classic Larraín touchstones, including a period setting and explorations of his native Chile’s turbulent political history.
Gael will be playing the real-life police investigator Oscar Peluchonneau, who follows hot on Neruda’s tail as the poet moves clandestinely through the Chilean political underground, while Neruda himself will be played by another recurring Larraín collaborator, Luis Gnecco, who also starred in the Larraín-helmed HBO series Prófugos.
Filming is set to wrap in August, so we can likely look forward to a 2016 premiere from Chile’s hottest and most prolific modern director.