EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|NO (director: Pablo Larrain; screenwriters: Rene Saavedra/from the play by Antonio Skármeta; cinematographer: Sergio Armstrong; editor: Andrea Chignoli; music: Carlos Cabezas; cast: Gael Garcia Bernal (Rene Saavedra), Antonia Zegers (Veronica), Pascal Montero (Simon), Alfredo Castro (Lucho Guzmán), Luis Gnecco (José Tomás Urrutia), Néstor Cantillana (Fernando), Elsa Poblete (Carmen); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Daniel Marc Dreifuss/Juan de Dios Larraín/Pablo Larrain; Sony Classics; 2012-Chile-in Spanish with English subtitles)|
performance by Bernal was inspiring, as was the pic."
by Dennis Schwartz
It's based on the play “Referendum” by Chilean journalist
Antonio Skármeta. This is the third leg in the
trilogy of the brutal Augusto
Pinochet dictatorship in Chile by Chilean
Larrain ("Tony Manero"/"Post Mortem"). The stirring
historical drama blends together one part
political and the other part a satirical account
of an advertising media campaign that brought down
executive Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal, Mexican
actor) is the son of a prominent Chilean dissident who was
sent into exile when Pinochet seized power in his 1973
military coup of the legitimate democratically elected
socialist Allende regime, with the aid of the CIA.
Rene returns to Chile with his young son Simon (Pascal Montero), and works for the
advertising firm run by Pinochet supporter Lucho Guzmán
(Alfredo Castro). It's 1988 and Chile has
undergone 15 years of torture, oppression and lack of
freedom. Due to international pressure, Pinochet is
forced to call a referendum on his presidency. The
country has a choice to vote Yes or No for Pinochet
serving another 8 years. Each side for a month will be
of free late-night air-time to broadcast daily and try
to persuade the people to vote Yes or No.
Socialist big-shot politico
Urrutia (Luis Gnecco), an old friend of Rene’s father,
persuades Rene to help as a campaign consultant in
this difficult task of uniting all the dissident
parties in one voice and fending off the tight
scrutiny of the dictatorship. Most Chilean left-wingers, such
as Rene’s estranged activist wife, Veronica (Antonia
Zegers), believe the referendum is rigged so Pinochet will win and
she thinks this process is a charade. Within the ad
campaign, Rene is challenged by the radical members of the coalition
for downplaying the torture and misery caused by
Pinochet for a strategy of lighthearted campaign
messages that have commercial-like jingles that
promise happiness in the future and use rainbows as
symbols to unite the people. Running the campaign for
the dictator is Lucho Guzmán, who tells of the country's
economic prosperity under the regime. Lucho fails to
get Rene to quit as consultant for the opposition,
even after offering him a partnership. During their
regular day jobs, the men work together promoting soft
drinks, evening gowns and microwaves.
Though the ad world
represents a degraded form of art, its manipulative
messages work and they bring down the repressive
regime to the surprise of many.
The pic has the realistic
look of a despotic country that is tense over the
possibility of giving the people too much of an
opportunity to vent their displeasure. It also dates
back to a time before politicians in democratic
countries used advertising firms almost without fail
to promote their campaign messages.
The understated performance by Bernal was inspiring, as was the pic. The even-handed film, whose fault might be in its too simplistic political message. Nevertheless it exposes the hypocrisies on both sides and gives the viewer an entertaining and clear picture of those embittered days. Of note, Larrain is the son of Pinochet supporters.
REVIEWED ON 4/21/2013 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ