The life of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez receives a thorough recounting in Justin Webster's documentary, which prioritizes the political over the personal. Journalist Juan Gabriel Vásquez and biographer Gerald Martin trace Gabo’s path from the Colombian village of Aracataca to internationally renowned author (he based Macondo, the town in One Hundred Years of Solitude, on Aracataca).
Gabo, who grew up primarily with his grandparents, drew lifelong inspiration from the death-obsessed colonel and his superstitious wife. After his grandfather’s death, Gabo moved to Bogotá to make his way in the world. Though he found the city cold and lonely, it’s where he established himself as a journalist before settling in Mexico where he would remain. From there, he would grapple with fame, horror over Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror, and a fascination with Fidel Castro. Alongside interviews and archival footage, friends and associates read from key works like No One Writes to the Colonel, the writer's self-proclaimed favorite.
In form, Gabo looks much like a PBS documentary, which isn’t a bad thing, but a touch of the magical realism that illuminated his novels would’ve been nice. The film could’ve also used a few words from his son, Rodrigo García (Mother and Child), an underrated director who hasn’t quite gotten his due. As biography, though, Gabogets the job done.