Pablo Larrain’s No (which marks a trilogy of sorts with Tony Manero and Post Mortem) is quite a few things at once – an incisive political drama, a marvelous exploration of the power of media, a level-headed take on a significant chapter in contemporary history, a satirical look at complex interpersonal dynamics, a critique on middle class sensibilities, and a subtly affecting human story. But, most importantly, it is a terrific zeitgeist film, on account of its superb portrayal of the mood and spirit of the times. And yes, it’s a darn engaging film too. When, bowing to international pressure, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, after 15 years of iron-fisted rule, acquiesced to a plebiscite in 1988 regarding his stay in power, everyone expected it to be an open and shut case for him. The opposition camp, fighting for a “No” to Pinochet’s stay in power, hires René Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal), a smart and hotshot young advertising exec, to lead the creation of 15-minute television campaigns for their cause. He changes the game-plan of the “No” camp, which, in turn, helps in causing the impossible in the form of a bloodless coup, so to speak. Larrain took the challenging decision of shooting the film in low-definition video, the kind used in Chilean television then – this seemed tad jarring in the beginning, and might even appear gimmickry to some, but it blended marvelously in the scheme of things. The film is beautifully paced, brilliantly written with just the right amount of humour and tension, the larger picture exquisitely complemented by more intimate moments, and very well enacted, with the Mexican star providing a restrained yet quietly powerful performance.
Director: Pablo Larrain
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Historical Drama/Docu-Fiction