Pablo Larraín

review no

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during the 2012 NYFF, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release. The revolution will not only be televised, it will have commercials. At least that’s how it happens in No, Pablo Larraín’s new chronicle of the last days of Augusto Pinochet’s rule in Chile. It is the story of a military dictatorship that fell to an ad campaign, a cheerful one at that. This causes contradictions. On the one hand, the film emphasizes the joy of mass political action. Liberation is exciting, and people get excited about it when they are shown a brighter future. However, advertising is also the great commercial and consumerist art form, here being used as a tool by socialist and other left-wing opponents of the regime. On paper this seems extremely counter-intuitive, and No doesn’t lose sight of these tensions. To turn this whirlwind of politics and confusion into a human story, Larraín builds his film around a single young man caught at the very center of the drama. René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal) is an up-and-comer in the world of advertising, making a name for himself in a particularly important firm. Yet he suddenly finds himself faced with a life-changing decision. It is 1988, and due to international pressure on the Pinochet regime Chile is going to have a national plebiscite regarding the dictatorship. It would be the first free election in almost two decades. It was a simple proposition: “Yes” to keep […]

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Gael Garcia Bernal No

Augusto Pinochet was not a good guy. He rose to power in Chile through a military coup, and he’d go on to amass nearly 300 criminal charges throughout his brutally corrupt reign. Through increasing internal and international pressure, he legalized political parties and called for a public vote in 1987 on whether he would stay in power for another 10 years. If you voted YES, you wanted him to remain president. If you voted NO, you wanted him out. In No, Gael Garcia Bernal stars as a marketing expert who spearheads the effort to oust Pinochet through a series of political campaigns to encourage voters to have the courage to kick him out. The trailer (via Yahoo!) shows a slick production trying to convert a powerfully complex political reality into a positive message about what life might be like with democracy.

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