It's a shame, really, that "Neruda" doesn't touch the heart as elegantly as its titular poet's writing — but that's also the point of director Pablo Larrain's deconstructed look at the writer's all-too-human side.
Unlike Larrain's "Jackie," which built up the "Camelot" mythology of Jacqueline Kennedy, "Neruda" is about humanizing a legend by showing the artifice behind it. Larrain, a Chilean, shows his home country's most beloved poet, Pablo Neruda, at a particular point in his life — in the late 1940s, when the his writing, politics and personal life were set to collide.
When we meet Neruda — played by Luis Gnecco, a beloved comic actor in Chile — his poetry has taken a back seat to his political life. He's a senator, the best known member of Chile's Communist Party, in a running feud with Chile's president, Gabriel González Videla (Alfredo Castro). When the president outlaws the Communist Party, to appease his benefactors in the Cold War-paranoid United States government, Neruda finds himself both out of office and a wanted man.