Gael García Bernal once again charmed the house.

The Mexican actor was in town to attend the opening of his latest film, Neruda, at the Mill Valley Film Festival. He was greeted by festival founder Mark Fishkin before heading into the Rafael for the screening.

Response to the film, a whimsical and intelligent cat-and-mouse period piece about Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, was very positive. Later, Bernal received an award to raucous applause.

Alfredo Castro, Luis Gnecco, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba and Antonia Zegers co-star. And Pablo Larraín directs (and earlier this year presented the film at Cannes).

Neruda is easily one of MVFF’s most interesting films this year. In a year of heavyweights, such as the superb La La Land (Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling) and Arrival (Amy Adams), it’s also nice to see such an intriguing, thoughtful foreign film gaining strong momentum heading into the awards season.

IN PHOTOS: Gael Garcia Bernal ‘Neruda’ at Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF)

Gael Garcia Bernal - Neruda at the Mill Valley Film Festival (Drew Altizer)
Gael Garcia Bernal (Photo: Drew Altizer).
Gael Garcia Bernal with Jennifer MacCready at the Mill Valley Film Festival (Photo: Drew Altizer)
Gael Garcia Bernal with MVFF BOD member Jennifer MacCready (Photo: Drew Altizer).
Gael Garcia Bernal with MVFF founder Mark Fishkin (Photo: Drew Altizer)
Gael Garcia Bernal with MVFF founder and executive director Mark Fishkin (Photo: Drew Altizer).
Gael Garcia Bernal - Neruda at the Mill Valley Film Festival (Drew Altizer)
Gael Garcia Bernal arrives for a screening of his latest film, ‘Neruda’, at the Mill Valley Film Festival in San Rafael, California.

Clever and unpredictable story aside, the main reason to see Neruda is Gael García Bernal. His performance is, true to his standard, restrained, smart and brimming with charm. Those south of the border are all too familiar with the actor. Many here will know Bernal from the successful TV series Mozart in the Jungle. In addition to Neruda, Bernal has several projects making it to the big screen this year including Werner Herzog’s Salt and Fire and Roberto Sneider’s Me estás matando Susana.

Look for the 37 year-old star and native of Guadalajara to dawn the guise of Z himself, as he headlines in Zorro in 2017.

If you missed the screening of Neruda last night at the Mill Valley Film Festival, look for it Stateside where it opens December 16, 2016.

WATCH: Trailer for ‘Neuda’ starring Gael García Bernal

With Loni Stark in San Francisco.

Photos by Drew Altizer.

Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.