Sunday, 24 February 2013

Film Review: No (2012)

Director: Pablo Larraín
Writer: Pablo Larraín
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro and Antonia Zegers

Set in the weeks leading up to Chile’s 1988 referendum where the people voted yes or no (hence the film’s title) on keeping Augusto Pinochet in power, No is not your standard movie history lesson and is certainly deserved of its nomination at this year’s Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film.

The decision of the director to shoot this film entirely handheld on U-matic, a video cassette technology popular at the time the film is set, and presenting it in 4:3 ratio gives No a naturally anachronistic look and tone. The film looks as if it used all natural lighting and isn’t afraid to completely wash the frame with white light every time the sun hits the lens, all helping to give the film a documentary-real feel.

The choice of camera also enables the film to seamlessly edit in real footage from the time, including speeches by Pinochet and the TV adverts which the characters in the film are making and at times you don’t know what’s part of the film and what’s real footage; high praise indeed.

No doesn’t try to ramp up any needless tension even when the characters leading the ‘No’ vote are threatened by the opposition, and allows the story to remain focused on telling us what happened, leading up to its true-life conclusion. Nor do we get any speeches about how bad Pinochet is and why he must be defeated; the film remains very balanced and grounded throughout.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: The film making style alone makes No a must see for cinephiles who enjoy seeing something new and interesting, even if it’s not essential to see this one watch on the big screen.

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