Despite having only made a handful of features, Pablo Larraín is widely regarded as Chile’s most adored living filmmaker (and quite possibly of all time). It’s clear why, with such a diverse and striking filmography – from the zany and charming Saturday Night Fever-inspired Tony Manero (2008) to the darkly funny and heartfelt socio-political No (2012) – he’s steadily built a reputation as a cinematic voice to be reckoned with. It’s his uncompromisingly honest yet subtle approach to his themes and characters that makes his filmmaking so engaging and refreshing; especially given the current cinematic landscape. Rather than thrust ideas in his audience’s face, he lets them linger and develop of their own accord, building a resonance within you. You experience his films in a collaborative way – engaging with themes that you yourself find and tussle with. This isn’t escapism, in fact the opposite.
His latest offering, The Club (2015) is a masterclass in restraint: a slow-burning, pensive contemplation on faith, its institutionalisation and ultimate hypocrisy. It’s won plaudits the world over, including being awarded last year’s coveted Silver Bear in Berlin. It would ruin the experience to discuss in detail the film’s plot or characters, just believe that here you will find a truly startling, abrasive, poignant and darkly funny film that aims to pose nothing more than one simple question. One you will have to reach on your own.
With the upcoming biopics Neruda (with sometime collaborator Gael Garcia Bernal playing an inspector who hunts down the titular Chilean communist poet) and Jackie (with Natalie Portman as the First Lady), Larraín should go from strength to strength, further demonstrating his peerless magnetism and craft. He’s a persuasive filmmaker, one who’s aesthetic, tone and reserved veneer will serve him well in years to come. It’s unclear how his first forays into the English language will effect his skill or stature, but one thing is clear for now: go see The Club, you’d struggle to be disappointed.