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Critics reviews
No
Pablo Larraín Chile, 2012
This concern with the manipulation of political imagery culminates in the final film of the trilogy, No, a brilliantly incisive (and mostly true) satire… As in his previous films, politics becomes inseparable from performance, but No’s smeared imagery also signals the director’s distaste for Saavedra’s neoliberal ideology and shallow manipulations.
December 13, 2016
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No is among the sharpest political films in years, sharp enough to realise that democracy is most likely to emerge not from conflict but from comfortable apathy. It’s surely no accident that our own age… is also an age of middle-class people who basically want to stay home and play with their iPads. Too bad the film isn’t as sharp structurally as it is politically. Larrain gets sloppy, and muddles the message (I assume he didn’t have a choice, since the film is based on fact)…
December 10, 2013
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There’s still evidence of the director’s darker notions about the power of artifice and the marketing of politics rumbling below No’s narrative, but the film is less angry than melancholic. It’s a note of restraint, a subtle shift in sensibilities for the director, and it echoes throughout Larraín’s latest and solidifies his stature as an artist of distinct moral and historical outrage.
July 16, 2013
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Larrain has created a seamless spectacle that washes over the viewer, making it extremely difficult to separate the real from the staged, or to actively analyze, shot for shot, what we’re seeing. And so No is both a crowd-pleasing, satisfying narrative entertainment and a highly sophisticated conceptual object — perhaps the ultimate Situationist movie.
May 23, 2013
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Bernal, that dependably terrific Mexican movie star, plays his character as an enigma—a shrewd huckster whose fighting spirit seems to stem less from political motives than the thrill of a real challenge. Stirring as a celebration of voter empowerment, No may also inspire pangs of wistful nostalgia. When was the last time snake-oil salesmanship was put to such noble use?
March 07, 2013
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The sphere of politics has been radically displaced, but what of history? What of the images of the real? In the film, everything that we call history is brought back to the fore. NO, obsessed as it is with a fetishistic image of the past, goes beyond nostalgia. Larraín shot his movie on obsolete U-matic cameras, the same equipment that was commonly used by video-makers in the ‘80s, and therefore NO has the raw and gritty quality that is tied to Chileans’ audiovisual memory of the dictatorship.
March 01, 2013
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The movie’s suspenseful narrative is pretty engrossing. Even if you know little of Chile’s history of that time, the question of just how Pinochet and his puppets and puppet masters are stage-managing this supposedly transparent process to meet their expectations remains an open question throughout, and the threats and menaces René has to face deepen in an effective conventional suspense-movie fashion.
February 14, 2013
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A troubling, exhilarating and ingeniously realized film that’s part stirring political drama and part devilish media satire…
February 14, 2013
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Rene’s seeming apathy is a master stroke because it allows Mr. Larraín (who was born 1976) to set his protagonist outside the usual ideological battle lines and invest the story with contemporary resonance.
February 14, 2013
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The film gradually takes on an equivalence to the ad campaigns documented therein, all of them essentially doctoring history to suit their purposes—something that’s also underscored by Larrain’s political-thriller plotting, which often feels deliberately schematic.
February 13, 2013
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What stays with you from No—certainly more than the scenes of Saavedra’s home life, which don’t register as more than the obligatory establishment of “something to fight for” motivation—is the film’s sense of living in history that’s mediated even as it’s made.
February 13, 2013
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Gael García Bernal has been on fire lately (recently in The Loneliest Planet), as his boyish looks bloom into immaturity. The work he does in No is cryptic and arresting: Either René is a blinking naif or shrewder than everyone onscreen. His detachment is his strength.
February 12, 2013
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In a stylistic masterstroke, Larraín and his regular cinematographer Sergio Armstrong shot the film with a 1983 U-matic video camera, leaving little difference between the archive footage and the new material. This, along with the excellent production design, results is a near-seamless stylistic whole that draws us into the period.
February 08, 2013
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I really love this movie. I recommend it to students of advertising, social revolution and film form. Larraín—who has directed two other films about 70s-80s Chilean political history, and was just 12 when the plebiscite took place—has Oliver Stone’s facility for mixing documentary footage with docudrama re-creations (the entire movie was shot with 1980s TV news equipment) and Steven Spielberg’s somewhat mysterious, at times unnerving sunniness.
February 04, 2013
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[Larrain] tarnishes his own triumphant narrative: the nation’s enlightened embrace of self-determination is repeatedly qualified by the resemblance between the pro-democracy sales pitch and that for any other product. No reminds us that wherever “freedom” must be sold to the public, a history of complacency, violence, and terror has to be overcome.
January 01, 2013
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For the most part, this two-hour film wisely stays focused on a core narrative that’s complicated enough, revolving as it does around one of the central paradoxes of our media-dominated times: Why is hucksterism and showmanship the most effective way to inspire people to act in their own interest? And once you’ve gone down that route, can you ever turn back?
October 13, 2012
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A singular biopic and a snapshot of a society renewed, No unaffectedly celebrates faith in democracy, and, surprisingly, truth in advertising.
October 12, 2012
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No offers an admirable, detailed reconstruction of the period. Less metaphorically ambitious than what we’ve come to expect from Larraín, the film is nonetheless passionately staged with a feel of disarming authenticity.
October 11, 2012
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While it’s nowhere as dark as [Larrain’s] previous films, an atmosphere of intimidation hangs over the characters. These shadows of fear really communicate how and why Pinochet was convinced he would win the vote regardless of the opposition
October 08, 2012
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The decision to shoot in outdated U-matic video adds period verisimilitude, but the film’s optimism—that change is a possibility—couldn’t speak more to our current moment. Don’t miss this.
September 28, 2012
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The blurred, blown-out effect doesn’t transcend gimmick, though. I just kept wondering where my 3-D glasses were. Aside from that aesthetic misfire, No succeeds as a straightforward social satire, pitting Bernal against his right-wing boss (Alfredo Castro), who plays dirty tricks on him as the producer of the “Yes” campaign.
September 11, 2012
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No is a direct contrast to the locked-down, 35mm widescreen images of Post Mortem, which strained from a certain self-importance. Even more, No revisits the theme of TV’s influence on the public that was so tendentiously depicted in Tony Manero, and observes the medium from the standpoint of the message-makers.
September 01, 2012
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Deliberately making the film as ugly and tacky as possible, Larraín expertly reproduces the most laughable excesses of ‘80s advertising, which was apparently much the same everywhere. I looked in vain for a hint of contemporary relevance, and couldn’t work up any real interest in García Bernal’s relationship with his semi-militant ex-wife and his young son, but was generally laughing too hard to focus on the flaws.
May 27, 2012
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