In 1988, the Chilean people had a choice to change the history of their country. They could either vote yes or no. If the people of Chile voted no, that meant their ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, would be overthrown of his dictatorship and a new era of government would be born. If Chile citizens voted yes, they would continue to live under Pinochet’s fascism and oppression. The vote seemed obvious. But since the people of Chile were still under Pinochet’s power, many feared prison, violence and death if they voted no.
Director Pablo Larraín captures the historic period of Chile’s country when it was the choice of the people to decide whether or not they wanted change. The film’s time period is in the ’80s and it was interesting, as a viewer, to see how closely the film related to actual footage during that time period. Larraín used a Sony U-matic magnetic tape camera, which gave the ’80s-esque feel of the movie.
The film stars Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, the ubiquitous star who has played in various controversial roles. Unlike his daring role in Y Tu Mamá También, Bernal portrays a more subtle character in No. Bernal’s character “Rene,” a talented, in-demand advertiser is asked to join the ‘No’ campaign. Hesitant at first, he agrees to join in hopes of promoting a successful campaign that will change the votes of the people. While he’s still employed at an advertising agency separate from the campaign, Rene must be sly with his new project. Rene’s boss, Lucho Guzmán (Alfredo Castro), is not only faithful to Pinochet but he’s also operating the ‘Yes’ campaign.
The story alone grasps the history and fear of the country with powerful dialogue written by Pedro Peirano. While the story emulates the dictatorship of Pinochet during 1988 in Chile, the story is told where the audience can relate because of the fact that there are still problems within politics. It’s an universal story that people can empathize with since society cannot escape from politics or the power of voice. The movie is told through a narrative, but as an audience member, it felt as if I was watching a documentary. As a viewer, it was interesting to follow the story that seemed too real to be scripted.
There were moments where I craved more anger from the actors but the flow of the movie reminded me that the actors were delivering their lines to show its realism. Although the story was written well by Pedro Peirano, the subtitles were bothersome. The subtitles took away from powerful shots because of their high placement. As much as I enjoyed the natural lighting captured throughout the film, the subtitles were washed out, which is problematic considering the dialogue is the heart of the film.
For people who viewed Argo, starring Ben Affleck, No has a similar flow in a sense that both movies convey a message of change by the people for the horrors that are continuing to happen by their ruler. Director Larraín draws you into the world of Chile during a time of violence, torture and fear by using a documentary aesthetic. Unlike Argo, where the time difference wasn’t much, the ’80s appeal, camera work, lighting and more importantly dialogue reel in the viewer. This is a story about paying attention to detail and through the cinematography you get a glimpse of the messages being conveyed when footage is being used to portray what happened. The film won the Art Cinema Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, which is no surprise considering the beautiful lighting, cinematography and dialogue.
The film could have easily been a story about information and facts regarding the actual event that took place in Chile, but instead a story that evoked emotion was told. There was an intertwining of information and emotion that made me as a viewer reevaluate the government around me. The story is beautifully and realistically told. It’s relatable to the world people live in whether or not their country is governed by five rulers or one.