NO || 2012, Chile / France / Mexico / USA || Biopic || Directed by – Pablo Larrain / Written by – Pedro Peirano (based on a play by Antonio Skarmeta) / Produced by – Eduardo Castro, Juan Ignacio Correa, Daniel Marc Dreifuss, Mariane Hartard, Rocio Jadue, Jonathan King, Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain / Music by – Carlos Cabezas / Cinematography – Sergio Armstrong / Editing by – Antonio Chignoli / Production design – Estefania Larrain / Starring – Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Luis Gnecco, Antonia Zegers / Running time: 118 mins.
In 1988, Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile came to an end after a surprising outcome in elections that were originally only supposed to be for show. No by Pablo Larraintakes an insightful snapshop of this historic event by highlighting the importance of the role played by René Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal), an in-demand advertising man who was responsible for coming up with a winning tactic that popularized opposition to his country’s relationship, by making it more commercially viable and cool.
The film employs a stylistic closeness to its time frame through the choice of filming on low definition magnetic tape. This distinctive texture adds a freshness and grit to the film to the point of resembling a direct cinema documentary, particularly when revealing the behind the scene machinations of the election campaign and the protests in the streets that often escalated into violence.
However, the human side of the story is possibly even more important. Even at its most tense and dramatic, the film benefits from a lightness provided by its sense of humour and satire. No is also seen through the perspective of its leading character, and never hides the fact that, while his sympathies lie with his faction, he is mostly driven by more personal desires. He hopes, in fact, that his involvement in the campaign will impress and bring him closer to his political ex-wife, who left him and his son to fully dedicate herself to political activism. This is an aspect of the story that deepens the outlook on the historic event, and even offers to look upon it with a certain, earthly poignancy. – 4/5