After what can only be described as a dream festival for director Pablo Larraín, his latest film “No” has won the Cannes Film Festival’s Art Cinema Prize.
A standing ovation, rave reviews, and a deal with a major distributor can all be listed along with the prize – which is the top award in the section in which “No” was screened – leading many critics to lament that it did not have the opportunity to compete for world cinema’s highest honor.
“One of the best-received films so far over at Cannes is Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s ‘No,’ starring Gael García Bernal,” writes critic Simon Dang for Indiewire. “Its rave reviews have even seen many question why it wasn’t chosen for the official competition lineup, as opposed to the Directors’ Fortnight, as it may very well have been a Palme d’Or candidate.”
Meanwhile, its artistic triumph looks set to be backed up by commercial success – the huge buzz that “No” generated has led major film distributor, Sony Classics, to acquire rights to the film.
“This movie is a masterfully engaging and energetic drama about politics and power, a tonic for the brain that is also a major entertainment. ‘No’ establishes Pablo Larraín as a major international director and Gael García Bernal gives his finest performance,” states the film distributor.
The film is the third – and most accessible – of Larraín’s unplanned and thematically connected trilogy set in Chile under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
But whereas “Tony Manero” and “Post Mortem” portrayed the lives of individuals who had been emotionally crushed or deranged by the dictatorship, his latest film deals with a young ad executive, played by García Bernal, who spearheaded a creative campaign to bring about the transition to democracy.
One of the most talked-about features of the film was the risky decision to shoot in a slightly blurred U-matic stock, which is almost indistinguishable from the historic footage that is artfully interspersed throughout the film.
“As he did with trilogy’s first two parts, Mr. Larraín has given this one a distinct visual style that serves the story, in this case by shooting with a pair of rebuilt U-matic video cameras,” writes New York Times critic Manohla Dargis, who described the film as “one of the best selections at Cannes.”