This is the third film from Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín – after ‘Tony Manero’ and ‘Post Mortem’ – to offer a sideways view of life in 1970s and ’80s Chile under the dictator General Pinochet. This time, the mood is lighter and less macabre, even if the politics remain deadly serious. It’s 1988, and likeable young ad man René (Gael Garcia Bernal) is hired to make TV spots for the anti-Pinochet ‘no’ campaign in a referendum to extend his rule – forced on Pinochet by international pressure. René is hardly political, although his former partner and mother of his young son is a left-wing activist. But this new gig puts him at the heart of a system on the brink of change.
Most striking is Larraín’s decision to shoot ‘No’ on vintage U-matic video, giving his film the grainy, hazy look of old TV news footage. It’s a bit distracting at first, but the more Larraín mixes his new footage with ’80s archive, the more it makes sense and the more the look of the film seems to speak of the spirit and textures of the age. Partly ‘No’ is driven by both the win-or-lose momentum of the plebiscite at its heart and Larraín’s desire, again, to show the grey areas of belief in Chile at this time. But ‘No’ also works quietly as a story of personal and political semi-awakening as Larraín never strays far from René, played with expected charm and a dash of naivety by Bernal.
Cast and crew
|Cast:||Gael García Bernal