After the dour Tony Manero and the downright depressing Post Mortem, Chilean writer-director Pablo Larrain once again delves into his country's past for a story. This time, however, No finds Larrain in chirpier mood for an election campaign drama that's based on a true story.
In 1988, international pressure encourages Pinochet's dictatorship to open a referendum, asking the Chilean population to vote to continue the dictatorship (Yes) or usher in a new era of democracy (No). The leader of the opposition coalition (Gnecco) approaches advertising whizz René (Garcia Bernal) to dream up an unexpected angle for the No campaign. Hardened by fifteen years of oppression, some of the coalition, and René's hardcore radical ex-wife (Zegers), want René's campaign to centre on the regime's brutality but he opts for something cuddlier...
Leaving the writing duties this time to Pedro Peirano, adapting Antonio Skarmata's play, No is a warmer and funnier outing from Larrain: it's filled with odd scenes like discussing what the dictator could do to get his people to like him, there's a running joke involving a mime and there's the appearance of Hollywood celebs, including Richard Dreyfus who was then promoting his own Pinochet satire Moon Over Parador, encouraging Chileans to vote.
But while its humour is a slow burner, what strikes you immediately is the distinct style. Shot like a low grade cheesy amateur 80s home video (blurry lights, shaky camera), No's ugliness is deliberate, not only matching the political shenanigans of both sides, it segues easily into episodes of archive footage of actual political broadcasts that dot the movie. It's so jarring at first, however, it may kill chances of getting into the riveting story.
Garcia Bernal is charismatic in the lead role and while Alfredo Castro, usually Larrain's leading man, takes the backseat here but he's as slimy as ever as René's boss and, later, his rival when he takes over the campaign for the Yes side.
The ugly style takes a little getting used to but once you do No is a delight.
Review by Gavin Burke | 12:01 | Monday 4th February 2013 | Movie Review
What? only 4 stars? would you go back to Michael Bay you philistine hack.Posted 09:36 | Fri 8th Feb 2013
4 stars for No is just about right. As a film reviewer myself, I only give 5 stars to exceptional films - and there are only a handful of those every year.Posted 16:48 | Sat 9th Feb 2013
There are only a handful of exceptional films in a LIFETIME and this is not among them - this film is just a bore. If you think even for a moment that this drivel is exceptional you must be having a bad day or maybe you went to the film with a bag without holes over your head, silly old you.Posted 12:44 | Tue 12th Feb 2013
I really wanted to enjoy this movie,after all it is about the overthrow of a tyrant. So why am I so dejected? It felt amateurish, the quality of the actual film was blurred, I thought it was meant to be 3-D at one stage. There is uncertainty as well, are we going to see these momentous events against the background of a troubled marriage? Well it is touched on but not developed. Or Bernal's fraught relationship with his employer; is he good or bad? think the movie is trying to say so much it is unnecessarily confused. The subtitles didn't help either, they were on screen for the blink of an eye and I hardly read them, the font didn't help either. And why do the characters keep finishing their sentences with "man". It came across as corny. No overall this was a disappointment.Posted 23:01 | Mon 4th Mar 2013
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