NYFF54 Reviews: ‘NERUDA’ & ‘A QUIET PASSION’- two different films about two unforgettable poets.




  • Pablo Larraín
  • 2016
  • Chile/Argentina/France/Spain
  • 107 minutes
  • Opens December 16, 2016

Pablo Larraín’s exciting, surprising, and colorful new film is a “Nerudean” portrait of the great Chilean poet’s years of flight and exile, featuring Luis Gnecco, Gael García Bernal as a fictional detective, and a terrific cast.


NERUDA is a beautifully detailed period drama about the legendary Communist party leader and Chilean poet Pablo Nedruda. It’s essentially a game of cat and mouse between Neruda’s refusal to turn himself into the government and the cop sent to hunt him down. Always one step ahead of the  game, the film utilizes literary tropes to reel the viewer in. Neruda’s own poem are weaved into the narrative giving it a romantic quality. The dialogue is witty and the delivery from each cast member is delightful. With its noir soundtrack and engaging jump cuts in the dialogue heavy scenes, your eyes and ears are nothing but  entertained throughout. Luis Gnecco portrays Neruda as the beloved, restless spirit he was. He is spectacular. Gael García Bernal, as Inspector Oscar Peluchonneau, is nothing short of hypnotic. He wrestles with falling into the shadow of his fathers greatness and letting out the poet inside himself. Neruda is a gorgeous portrait of man and the effect of his creations on the world.



  • Terence Davies
  • 2016
  • U.K./Belgium
  • 125 minutes

The great British director Terence Davies turns his attention to 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson for this formally audacious triumph starring a revelatory Cynthia Nixon.


Cynthia Nixon brings the reclusive American poet to  life in A QUIET PASSION. While the title, I believe, eludes to more than just her work, Terence Davies sheds light on the mystery that was one of the greatest poets we may ever know. As a fan of Dickinson myself, I was delighted to hear Cynthia voice her work  in chronological order. We first meet Emily as a young woman in a school she does not fit into. Adverse to the staunch religious societal norms, Emily makes her own path, even at the hands of her own happiness. Through her death, she battles a wanting for love and yet pushes away any acceptable suitors out of spite and stubbornness. The film tackles the inherent sexism of the times where duty and tradition trumped defiance such as Emily’s. She has very Lizzie Bennett quality about her. With stunning visual transitions and Wildean wit, A QUIET PASSION is mostly perfect. The one thing that may be difficult to overcome is the theatrical tone in dialogue delivery. It was no doubt  specific choice by Davies, one that might just be the film’s undoing in the long run.

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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