The much heralded Chilean director, Pablo Larrain (Tony Manero (2008) and Post Mortem (2010)) completes his Pinochet trilogy with the critically acclaimed No starring Gael Garcia Bernal.
No stars Bernal as a cynical young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra asked to spearhead the 'No' campaign for those opposing the dictatorial regime led by General Pinochet, and attempt to bring democracy to Chile.
Larrain uses his methodical eye and observational style to bring to the screen a perfectly rendered 1980s set film; pleasingly the film harkens back to the start of the campaign as we follow them using scant resources and being under constant scrutiny from colleagues and the Pinochet regime.
At stake for the dissidents is a chance for freedom and to be as affluent as they wish they could be. The irony is not lost on the audience when we first me Rene who is pitching a campaign for a new soft drink, called 'Free'. It is telling though that in the country, everyone speaks in whispers, scared to say anything against the totalitarian regime and end up dead like so many before them.
Larrain cleverly mixes scripted and imagined scenes with carefully selected archive footage, and kudos to cinematographer Sergio Armstrong for shooting with a 1983 U-matic camera so we cannot distinguish between the imagined and the real 1980s footage.
Credit also to Bernal for taking a role that is neither built on his in-built charm, nor a man who is a charmer - Rene is the son of a dissident and yet he remains honest in his pursuit of the campaign and the ultimate victory. The contrast and similarities with Ben Affleck's Argo are noticeable - the beards, the anti-totalitarian regime, the faithfulness to the era the film is set in.
No is one of the most compelling and visually daring films of recent memory.
It is released on DVD (£19.99 rrp) and also on iTunes (£13.99 HD rrp or £3.49 to rent) and the Curzon Home Cinema, courtesy of Network Releasing.
Special features include an interview with Pablo Larrain; a conversation with Gael Garcia Bernal at Curzon Soho; a Q&A with Larrain from the 56th London Film Festival and image gallery
My thanks to Network Releasing for the opportunity to review this title.