‘Burning Patience’ (Ardiente Paciencia) follows a young man named Mario who befriends the famous poet Pablo Neruda while delivering letters to him in 1969 Chile. When he falls in love with a woman, he uses Neruda’s works to win her over. The film is based on the eponymous 1985 novel by Antonio Skármeta and is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
‘Burning Patience’ kicks off in June 1969 in the village of Isla Negra, on the coast of Chile. Mario Jiménez, an introverted young man, refuses to become a fisherman like his father and instead takes a job as the local postman.
The entire village is illiterate, but Mario has a job to deliver posts to the famous poet Pablo Neruda who lives as a recluse. Mario is mesmerized after his first meeting with Neruda and buys a copy of one of his books.
Eventually, the young postman becomes a good friend of Neruda’s. Their relationship grows over time, and the latter narrates a new poem to Mario while explaining the importance of metaphors.
Meanwhile, in the village, a new hotel opens up, and Mario is smitten by the owner’s daughter, Beatriz González. He often runs into her but cannot find the words to express his feelings.
Mario seeks the help of Neruda while delivering a telegram. The poet discovers that he is expected to run for Chile’s presidency. He gives Mario a couple of his books to help him with his love story and leaves to campaign across the country. He even leaves him a key to his house for the mail.
The postman starts wooing Beatriz, and she reciprocates his interest. The two meet at the beach and talk about poetry. Meanwhile, Beatriz’s mother, Mrs. Elba, is against this budding relationship.
She reminds Beatriz that her father was a sweet talker like Mario, who impregnated her at 17 years of age and left. Worried that the same might happen to her daughter, she forbids her from seeing the postman again.
Burning Patience ending explained in detail:
How do Mario and Beatriz meet again?
As Mrs. Elba keeps Beatriz under a watchful eye, Mario tries to prove his honest intentions to her. However, the hotel owner refuses to listen to him and sends him away. One day, at the beach, Mario talks to Beatriz’s friend Clarita, a nun.
She hints that Beatriz will be at mass on Sunday and Mario should come if he wishes to see her. The excited postman goes to church and sees the girl of his dreams from a distance. Unfortunately, Mrs. Elba notices him, and he escapes.
With all his plans failing, Mario listens to the local radio and realizes he can send secret messages to Beatriz through the radio announcer. They start having encoded exchanges via the radio and finally plan to meet.
When Mrs. Elba is out, Clarita calls Mario near the hotel and stands guard. He meets Beatriz after many days and the two kiss. He confesses his love for her and hands her a poem he says he wrote.
This beautiful moment is shortlived as a signal from Clarita states that Mrs. Elba has returned.
Why does Beatriz leave?
Once Mario leaves, Beatriz reads the poem and realizes it is one of Neruda’s. Distraught about Mario lying to her, she thinks about her mother’s warnings and decides to leave for Valparaíso to live with her aunt.
She sends him one final message through the radio, telling Mario about her decision to move. Confused, he asks Clarita about the situation, and she lets him know that Beatriz is familiar with all of Pablo Neruda’s works.
Mario realizes his mistake and puts all his efforts into writing original poetry. He convinces Clarita to find Beatriz’s address from her mother and sends her a letter.
His boss at the post office encourages him to move on, but Mario keeps patience. Eventually, Beatriz writes him back and the two start communicating in metaphorical verses.
She mentions that she felt insulted because Mario believed she would not be literate enough to know Neruda’s poems. He apologizes and the two continue exchanging letters.
Do Mario and Beatriz end up together?
After dropping out of the presidential race, Neruda returns home as Salvador Allende becomes President of Chile. He finds Mario writing poems on his desk and is slightly offended.
However, he goes through the writing and makes a suggestion. Before Mario can leave, Mrs. Elba shows up and criticizes Neruda for imbuing Mario with the poetry bug.
She tells him about the plagiarised poem and asks him to warn Mario. Once she leaves, Neruda tries to interrogate Mario, but he leaves in frustration.
Later, the poet shows up at Mario’s place and reveals that a party is being organized for him at Mrs. Elba’s hotel in honor of his impending Nobel Prize for literature. He mentions that even Beatriz will be present for it.
On the day of the party, Neruda uses Clarita and a few others to distract Mrs. Elba as Beatriz secretly meets Mario. He asks her to marry him to convince her mother, and the two make love.
Later, they walk into the hotel together and convince Mrs. Elba of their love. The final scenes show a montage of Mario and Beatriz getting married and having a child.