(Pablo Larraín, 2012)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: An important slice of Chile's political history is given a hugely entertaining transfer to film in 'No'. Well deserved of its Oscar nomination.
One of the great things about the Hollywood rat race surrounding the Oscars is that the short films, documentaries and foreign language entries get a real boost that they never would've seen before, showcasing some real gems. Pablo Larraín's 'No', which is up for Best Foreign Language Film, is such a discovery.
'No' retells a very important part of Chile's history: it's 1988 and dictator Pinochet has been in power for 16 years. International pressure has forced him to at least stage a national plebiscite allowing the people to vote 'YES' to another eight year office term or 'NO' to get him out of power. But the playing field wasn't exactly level. The 'YES' party could campaign on TV 24/7 while the 'NO' party was restricted to daily 15 minute slots late at night. Their campaign really needed to connect, and fast.
The issue wasn't so much what the people wanted but how to get the message across that it was safe to vote and that the alternative to Pincohet is a brighter future. Enter advertising exec René Saavedra (a sublime Gael García Bernal) who is more used to flogging soft drinks and microwaves with glamour and escapism. He's the brainchild behind a plan to campaign with happiness, humour and a positive attitude, drastically moving away from the usual stock footage of massacres and fearful statistics. René Saavedra is selling something. It just happens to be democracy and freedom from dictatorship.
Pablo Larraín's film injects so much life into his film and brims with unexpected laughs. His narrative doesn't stress on how dangerous it was for the 'No' campaigners when he can get us to enjoy the company of the characters so much that if one was to be eliminated you'd be shocked.
Even more engaging than that is the style in which it is shot: it looks like it's been filmed on videotape fitting in perfectly with what television news crews used during the time period. This works twofold in that it feels more realistic and also because Larraín can seamlessly slot in stock footage and actual campaign material without any noticeable dips in quality.
This is brave, rewarding viewing with a clear history lesson operating side by side with the pitch perfect dramatics. It's also a fascinating insight into how politics and marketing have since become so unashamedly entwined. 'No' is fully deserving of its Oscar nomination and gets my recommendation.
Watch the trailer for 'NO' here at Cinemas Online
Other film news
The female-led reboot of 'Ghostbusters' is now well underway with the four lead stars being revealed by director Paul Feig.
One of the biggest bits of casting news in the last few months was Tom Hardy's involvement in David Ayer's 'Suicide Squad' - the forthcoming superhero picture also starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne and 'The Wolf of Wall Street' breakout starlet Margot Robbie.
Another year, another set of Oscar nominations and another round of gasps of both joy and shock as the toast of Hollywood is picked by their peers. Leading the pack are two critical darlings each with nine nominations: Wes Anderson's wonderful dramedy 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and the genre-bending breakthrough 'Birdman'. 'The Imitation Game' followed closely with eight including a surprise Best Director nod.
Despite a storied career in stand-up, music and film, Woody Allen has seldom ventured into the world of television, but that's all about to change for the 'Midnight in Paris' Oscar winner.
The Golden Globes once again spread out the awards and also threw in a few surprises this year.
The British Academy Film Award nominations have been released and they are not without their controversial choices.
According to a survey by Fandango, the new 'Star Wars' reboot 'The Force Awakens' is the most anticipated film of 2015.
Chris Pine has admitted that that his headlining take on the latest incarnation of the espionage franchise 'Jack Ryan' failed and has probably killed his chances of getting a sequel to the film.
'Exodus: Gods and Kings' has been banned in Egypt, it has been confirmed.
The recent leaks of Sony's email database are continuing to flow as more information comes to light, the latest being that studio chairman Amy Pascal is keen to see Daniel Craig's James Bond be replaced by Idris Elba.
Following the demands of the Sony hackers, the Seth Rogen and James Franco political satire 'The Interview' has been shelved in its home market of America.
The London Film Critics' Circle has announced the nominations for its 35th annual awards ceremony, with Mike Leigh's historical biopic Mr Turner leading the way with seven nominations, including Film of the Year and British Film of the Year.
The massive hack on film studio sony Pictures has become a media firestorm with a wealth of sensitive information being leaked by hacking group Guardians of Peace. Here's the rundown of events:
Double Oscar winner Sean Penn hasn't been known to close in the most commercial of film projects, but as he's reached his fifties the 'Mystic River' and 'Milk' star appears to have had a change of heart.
The Golden Globe nominations have been announced and âBirdmanâ âBoyhoodâ and âImitation Gameâ are leading the pack while some heavy hitters found themselves snubbed: 'Interstellar' settled for just a music nomination for Hans Zimmer's score and Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' got nothing, as did Clint Eastwood's war drama 'American Sniper' starring a snubbed Bradley Cooper.
The hackers that struck Sony Pictures and revealed star salaries as well as leaking screener copies of some of their films onto torrent websites have taunted the studio again.
'The Fighter' star Mark Wahlberg is seeking redemption - he's just filed for a pardon over a crime he was convicted of back in 1988.
'Skyfall' director Sam Mendes took to the Pinewood Studios stage to formally announce the particulars of the forthcoming James Bond movie. The Oscar winner revealed that 007's 24th adventure would be titled 'Spectre'.
Amateur boxer turned pin-up actor turned pro boxer turned Oscar nominated actor turned pro boxer again Mickey Rourke scored a professional boxing match win at the age of 62 last week, but some sources now claim the two round fight was rigged.
One of the earliest to announce their film picks in the awards season, the Independent Spirit Awards have revealed their nominations with director Alejandro G. Inarritu's 'Birdman' leading the way with six noms.