The Chilean film No by Pablo Larraín received a prolonged and ecstatic standing ovation as well as highly positive initial reviews by the critics yesterday, after its world premiere in the Directors' Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival. "Brilliant," "a masterwork," and “extraordinarily well-made," are some of the fervent adjectives that the Chilean film received, which was the first Latin American production at bat at the 65th edition of the festival.
Along with Tony Manero (2008) and Post Mortem (2010), No is the third in Larraín's loose trilogy on the Pinochet era. The film was based on Antonio Skármeta's play ‘Referendum’ and adapted by Pedro Peirano and stars Mexican actor Gael García Bernal and Larraín's regular leading man Alfredo Castro (playing here the villain role of the leader of the government opposition). No tells the story of René Saavedra, a Chilean adman who orchestrates a marketing campaign against the reelection of dictator Augusto Pinochet in the historic plebiscite of 1988.
LA Times ’ Kenneth Turan's called it "a smart, involving, tangy film that mixes reality and drama to provocative effect (…) No is a most unusual underdog story, the kind of heady, relevant filmmaking we don’t see often enough at Cannes. Or anywhere else."
James Rocchi writing for indieWIRE's blog ‘The Playlist’ referred to it as "extraordinarily well-made, superbly acted, funny, human, warm, principled and, yes, as enthrallingly entertaining as it is fiercely moral and intelligent." Furthermore he described the film as "a masterwork! No is one of the breakout films of Cannes. As wonderful as it was to find it here, the only thing to regret is that it isn't in the main competition where it deserves to be.”
Eric Kohn writing for indieWIRE called the film "brilliant", Larraín's "most accomplished work (…) delivering a lively, mesmerizing drama." Leslie Felperin wrote in his review for Variety that the performances “as one has come to expect from Larraín's work, are immaculate. García Bernal has seldom been better than he is here” and added “No has the potential to break out of the usual ghettos that keep Latin American cinema walled off from non-Hispanic territories.”
“Anchored by an admirably measured performance from Gael García Bernal (…) the quietly impassioned film seems a natural for intelligent arthouse audiences” wrote David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter, whilst Guy Lodge for HitFix calls No the "film of the festival so far" and Larraín's "most narratively robust and emotionally rousing film to date, a hearty celebration of hard-earned democracy spiked with just enough of the director's acidly crooked humor to remind us whose house we're in."