No

Screened at the 2012 Telluride Film Festival

A fascinating exercise in historical fill-in-the-blanks, Pablo Larrain’s No is built around the real television advertising campaigns conducted by both sides (“Yes” and “No”) of Chile’s historic 1988 referendum on Pinochet. Though the film is sometimes frustratingly out-of-context (we get little sense of whether any of the ads are working until late in the film), its examination of the invidious way style subsumes substance in political campaigns is riveting — and totally undermines any notion of this being a hagiographic history lesson. Often hilarious (the recurring gag involving mimes nearly made me keel over) and featuring a lovely, subtle performance by Gael Garcia Bernal, No also functions as a sly character study of a man — estranged from his wife and in the shadow of his father — who earns back some measure of self-respect by working up the guts to apply his craft to something meaningful.

Eugene Novikov

Seeking in movies meaning and reflection in real-time. On the look out for biography, thriller & drama best pieces.

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