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Garcia Bernal and Larrain Just Say 'No' EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 21, 2012 at 12:26PM

Oscar-shortlisted "No," a hit on the festival circuit, comes from Chilean director Pablo Larraín and Mexican producer-star Gael García Bernal, who collaborated on a novel recreation of the 1988 ousting of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet after 15 years of oppression. Sony Pictures Classics acquired all North American rights.
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'No''s Larrain and Garcia Bernal
'No''s Larrain and Garcia Bernal

"No," one of the best-received and most satisfying movies at Cannes 2012, which also screened in the Toronto and New York Film Festivals, comes from Chilean director Pablo Larraín and Mexican producer-star Gael García Bernal, who collaborated on a novel recreation of the 1988 ousting of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet after 15 long years of oppression. Sony Pictures Classics acquired all North American rights to the $2-million Participant Media-funded picture, which earned a rousing standing ovation when it debuted at the Director's Fortnight. Larraín and García Bernal were nervous before the showing, they admit in our flip cam interview below.

García Bernal ("Babel," "The Motorcycle Diaries") gives a powerful, moving performance as courageous ad executive Rene Saavedra --under constant threat from Pinochet's thugs-- who spearheads the "happiness" ad campaign that led to an overwhelming victory for the coalition opposition (or "No" party) in the 1988 elections that were forced on Pinochet by the U.S. government. ("Happiness is coming if you vote 'No'!" ) 97% of the electorate turned out; the "No" party won 57% of the vote.

Gael Garcia Bernal in "No"
Gael Garcia Bernal in "No"

The film is a fictionalized version of a true story; each character, García Bernal told me, is based on several real people. Garcia Bernal leads a sprawling Chilean cast including Alfredo Castro, Antónia Zegers, Marcial Tagle, Néstor Cantillana, Jaime Vadell and Pascal Montero. Two of the actual Chilean "Mad Men" of the time play bit roles in the film.

"It's a bio-film," explains García Bernal of the docu-fiction hybrid which deploys real footage from the campaign and juxtaposes a real newsman shot now with footage of him 24 years ago. This is why Larraín took the aesthetic gamble of deploying U.S.-bought U-matic video cameras of the period to make the film look as grittily authentic as the archive footage. While the lens flares and other primitive aspects of the cinematography are distracting at first, the decision pays off by placing you there and then, without distraction. Hopefully audiences will not be put off and go along for the ride. SPC believes in the theatrical experience, which is what the filmmakers wanted. The film will look best on the small screen.

This article is related to: Gael García Bernal, Cannes Film Festival, Festivals, Cannes, Reviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.