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    No Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Sony Pictures

    Jun 30 2013 06:47 PM | Richard Gallagher in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Anyone who has seen the 1982 Costa-Gavras film Missing, starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek, is familiar with the backstory behind No, an award-winning political thriller directed by Pablo Larraín and starring Gael García Bernal [The Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education]. In 1973 Chile the Marxist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup which was supported by the CIA. Allende, who committed suicide rather than surrender to the military, was replaced by General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile as president/military dictator for the next 15 years. During Pinochet’s regime tens of thousands of Chileans were executed, tortured, imprisoned, or simply disappeared. By 1988 international pressure forced Pinochet to agree to a national referendum on his presidency. It was to be a simple vote, as there would be no candidate running against Pinochet. Voters who supported him would vote "Yes" and those who opposed him would vote "No." A law prohibiting political advertising was suspended, and each side was given equal time to make its case each night on television.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Sony
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.40:1
    • Audio: Spanish 5.1 DTS
    • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
    • Rating: R
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 58 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: Standard Blu-ray Amaray
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 06/25/2013
    • MSRP: $35.99

    The Production Rating: 4.5/5

    Anyone who has seen the 1982 Costa-Gavras film Missing, starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek, is familiar with the backstory behind No, an award-winning political thriller directed by Pablo Larraín and starring Gael García Bernal [The Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education]. In Chile in 1973 the Marxist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup which was supported by the CIA. Allende, who committed suicide rather than surrender to the military, was replaced by General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile as military dictator for the next 15 years. During Pinochet’s regime tens of thousands of Chileans were executed, tortured, imprisoned, or simply disappeared. By 1988 international pressure forced Pinochet to agree to a national referendum on his presidency. It was to be a simple vote, as there would be no candidate running against Pinochet. Voters who supported him would vote "Yes" and those who opposed him would vote "No." A law prohibiting political advertising was suspended, and each side was given equal time to make its case each night on television.

    Pinochet and his supporters are not particularly worried. Opposition to his regime is splintered and his reign of terror has understandably made many fearful Chileans reluctant to take a stand. Indeed, the leaders of the "No" movement are convinced that the balloting will be fixed and they have no chance of prevailing. Nevertheless, they are determined to give it their best shot. Recognizing that they need to make the most of their television time, they reach out to René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal), an advertising whiz who has impressed business leaders with his work on Chile's version of the cola wars. René sympathizes with Pinochet's opponents but he is reluctant to get involved. For one thing, his boss, Lucho Guzmán (Alfredo Castro), supports Pinochet. For another, René's success allows him to leave a comfortable, even luxurious lifestyle. His lives with his son and he has a complicated relationship with his ex-wife (Antonia Zegers), who has more radical political ideas.

    Eventually René decides to help the "No" forces and he begins working on a television campaign. His politics may not be overtly radical, but the same cannot be said about his approach to campaigning. The anti-Pinochet people want to campaign on opposition to the brutality and oppression of the Pinochet government, but René insists upon going in a different direction. Polling shows that many of the people who would be expected to oppose Pinochet have no intention of voting. Some believe that voting is pointless and others fear retribution. René reasons that highlighting torture, missing people and executions will only serve to reinforce the fears of the people. Instead, he proposes a campaign which will be consistently upbeat, a campaign which downplays the horrors of the current regime and instead promises a brighter future if Pinochet is removed from office.

    Even those who know the outcome of the 1988 referendum will be impressed by the suspense which is generated by No. As the campaign progresses, Pinochet's minions begin to recognize that the opposition's message is starting to resonate with voters. René soon has reason to be concerned for his son's safety, and violence breaks out at a "No" rally. Gael García Bernal is excellent in the lead role as a very reluctant hero, and the supporting cast is equally impressive. Director Pablo Larraín does a fine job of moving the story along, and it spite of its political overtones the film never becomes preachy. Although No does not discuss the current situation in Chile, by all accounts the country now has perhaps the strongest economy in South America. No is an exciting political drama which deservedly received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The video rating for No likely will cause some controversy, because this is not a pretty-looking film. It is delivered in 1080p, but in the unusual aspect ratio of 1.40:1 via the AVC codec. The cinematographic process is listed as follows:

    Betacam (archive footage)
    Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format)
    U-Matic (source format)

    Rather than produce an eye-catching widescreen image, the producers decided to strive for documentary-like authenticity by seamlessly integrating archival and new footage. The result is not spectacular, but it is uncannily effective. Indeed, the filmmakers have done such a fine job that it often is difficult to distinguish the old footage from the new. I have given the Blu-ray video a high grade because it fully replicates precisely what the filmmakers intended.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is excellent in every respect. The English, English SDH and French subtitles are easy to read. The surround channels come alive during the scenes of street violence, but this is primarily a dialogue-driven film. I have no familiarity with the music of Chile, but the fine score by composer Carlos Cabezas presumably does an authentic job of capturing the mood of 1988 Chile.

    Special Features: 3/5

    The extras consist of a commentary track by Pablo Larraín and Gael García Bernal. The commentary track is in English stereo and both men speak English very well. The film obviously was a labor of love and they seem to be enjoying themselves as they discuss the film.

    A question and answer session with Gael García Bernal was filmed at the Toronto International Film Festival. It is presented in 1080p widescreen and English stereo. Once again Bernal demonstrates that he is fluent in English. The audience's response to the film appears to have been quite enthusiastic. The Q&A session has a running time of nearly thirteen minutes.

    The original theatrical trailer also is included, as well as trailers for West of Memphis, The Company You Keep, At Any Price, Amour, and Love is All You Need.

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5


    No is compelling and exciting political drama which tells a story about which most people outside of South America are unfamiliar. If I might editorialize for a moment, I must say that the film is inexplicably rated R for language, even though there is nothing here which most high school students in the United States have not heard before. This is a powerful film which high school students should be allowed to see as an example of what determined people can accomplish in the face of tyranny. Alas, the prudes at the Motion Picture Association of America obviously feel otherwise.

    Equipment used for this review:
    Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
    Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
    Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
    BIC Acoustech speakers
    Interconnects: Monster Cable

    Reviewed by: Richard Gallagher
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    3 Comments

    Richard-

     

    I agree, this film is a real gem, and a great political thriller.   Let me put it this way:  As Hoosiers is to young kids baseball movie, this has that kind of raw energy when it comes to the drive of a nation to conduct a bloodless revolution.   It's a great film that is really riveting.   I loved this, and it's an easy buy for me.

    Photo
    theonemacduff
    Jul 01 2013 04:29 PM

    As for the MPAA, that's not prudery, it's really a kind of political censorship, whether they recognize it as such or not. I wish these guys would just get the heck outa Dodge, as they are not doing anyone a service, neither audiences nor producers. Why not use a set of neutral criteria? So much swearing, so much nudity, etc., and then publish the criteria and stick to them? They are so secretive, how can anyone trust them? There was an excellent movie called Whale Rider, which was about and for kids. MPAA rated it for older teens, making sure that, in North Am at least, it could not get its intended audience. Apologies for the rant, but these guys get my goat.

      • TheJFGB likes this

    We rented this movie and having watched it in the cinema last year, I thought it would disappoint in a High definition screen. It surely surprised me when it didn't look bad at all.

     

    As for the MPAA thing, I also think the rating it got was ridiculously high. But, in Chile, it was rated Todo Espectador (All Audiences) despite the high amount of crude language.

    It seems censors sometimes don't now about middle terms...

    P.D.: First post!