Reviews — From the May 2013 issue

Open Happiness

No and the magic system of advertising

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No, directed by Pablo Larraín. Fabula/Participant Media/Canana. 118 minutes.

Do movies have the power to change history? Or, more specifically, can TV ads alter the course of an election? The affirmative answer is provided by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s fact-based fourth feature, wittily titled No.

The thirty-six-year-old Larraín has devoted his career to excavating Chile’s recent past, especially the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende and the brutal military regime established by General Augusto Pinochet. Documentary, however, is not Larraín’s mode. His two previous movies, Tony Manero (2008) and Post Mortem (2010) — the former concerned with life under the Pinochet dictatorship, the latter with its origins — are, though shot in a naturalistic style, dark, absurdist allegories. Populated by characters who suggest hungry ghosts and animated corpses, they exemplify what might be termed the political gothic.

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is Gelb Professor of the Humanities at Cooper Union. His most recent book is Film After Film; or, What Became of 21st-Century Cinema? (Verso).

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