A brash, smooth-talking advertising executive is appointed by the opposing coalition to spearhead the ‘no’ campaign in the Chilean 1988 referendum.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director Pablo Larraín
- Producer Juan de Dios Larraín, Daniel Dreifuss
- Screenwriter Pedro Peirano
- With Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Luis Gnecco
- Chile-USA-Mexico 2012
- 118 mins
- UK distribution Network Releasing
Pablo Larraín’s (Tony Manero; Post Mortem) final instalment in his trilogy of films set during the rule of Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet stars Gael García Bernal as Rene Saavedra, a brash, smooth-talking advertising executive appointed by the opposing coalition to spearhead the ‘no’ campaign in the 1988 referendum. Desperate to reveal Pinochet’s human rights atrocities to the world, the 16-party ‘client’ is not immediately receptive to Saavedra’s proposal that their best chance at victory is to promise that ‘no’ is simply a vote for ‘happiness’. Liberally peppered with black comedy, Pedro Peirano’s (co-writer of Old Cats and The Maid) captivating script reveals not only the hypocrisy of the regime, but also the collision of interests in the left-leaning coalition and the dubious values of the advertising world. García Bernal is absorbing as the ad-man whose motivations slide between cynicism and conviction, and Alfredo Castro (lead from Larraín’s earlier films) is commanding as his corrupt boss. Larraín’s choice to shoot the film on U-matic video cameras used by TV stations of the era allows him to seamlessly blend in archival footage and to visually riff on the 80s aesthetics of the microwave and soft-drink commercials appropriated for the campaign. Winner of Directors’ Fortnight 2012.
What does it mean that the model that was used to overthrow the dictatorship then installed itself in post-Pinochet Chile?
Rene Saavedra is a son of the neoliberal system that Pinochet imposed in this country. This is why it is interesting that he, with the same ideological tools brought along by the dictatorship, is in charge of defeating Pinochet. And he does it by inverting an advertising campaign filled with political symbols and objectives, which on the surface are just part of a communicational strategy but, in reality, hide the future of a country. To me, the NO campaign is the first step towards the consolidation of capitalism as the only viable system in Chile. It's not a metaphor, it's direct capitalism, a pure and true product of advertising, taken to politics.
What does it mean for you to close this trilogy, after Tony Manero and Post-Mortem?
To close a cycle and wait for the films to generate connections amongst themselves. Post-Mortem speaks of the origin of the dictatorship; Tony Manero about its most violent moment, and No is about its end. Perhaps what I am most interested in is revising and revisiting the imagery of the violence, the moral destruction and ideological distortion, not in order to understand it, but in order to shed light on it. Perhaps, in time, they can contribute a look at a period filled with poorly lit and sad labyrinths, as well as clumsy and sometimes forced happiness.
Born in Santiago in 1976, he studied film direction before co-founding Fabula, a production company for film, TV and commercials. Under its aegis, he produced and directed his first feature Fuga, then acted as producer on Sebastián Silva’s 2006 feature La vida me mata (Life Kills Me). Tony Manero, which played in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes and then in the 2008 LFF, initiated a loose trilogy of films touching on Chile’s political upheavals of recent memory. In 2010, he also directed Prófugos, the first-ever HBO series produced in Chile, and earlier this year embarked on its second series.
2008 Tony Manero
2010 Post Mortem