An interesting take on the end of the Pinochet regime in Chile. No (Chilean, French language in English subtitles) stars Gael Bernal Garcia as an adman who gets to conduct the anti-Pinochet campaign in the 1988 national plebiscite. The director of the film, Pablo Larrain, has photographed the movie in the odd 1980’s U-matic TV format that is deliberately blotchy. This must equate to the lifeless submission of citizenship at the time, he must be saying. As for the viewer, you feel like you’re watching outdated RCA television with rabbit ears. Remember those?
Do you need to revisit this history? I say yes on two accounts. On the one hand you get a credible account of the General Augusto Pinochet dictatorship and how it blighted an entire country. The movie is slow in revealing how he oppressed his people, but blended archive footage shows you what he did (eventually). So many people disappeared because of his ruthless dictatorship.
On the second hand, you get an indication of the potency of great marketing and campaigning. Our adman insists on humor over stern lecturing. That said, Garcia comes off as passive in every movie he’s in, never more clear than in this one. We never really see him direct the making of the 15-minute segments that go on the Chilean TV air waves. He criticizes what’s part of them, and says they need to be done better. Basically, his character Rene Saavedra is marked more by faith than by action.
“No” is nominated for Best Foreign Film in this year’s Academy Awards. It’s not going to win, but it’s a worthy recognition of the nomination.
110 Minutes. Rated R. Spanish in English subtitles.
FOREIGN FILM / FOOD FOR THOUGHT / FRIDAY NIGHT POLITICS
Film Cousins: “Missing” (1982); “The Official Story” (1985, Argentina); “Tony Manero” (2008, Chile); “Post Mortem” (2010, Chile).