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Thursday, March 21, 2013

No Movie Review

As crazy as politics are here in America, it's the height of sanity when compared to Chile in the 1980s. In the latter part of that decade, after 15 years of General Augusto Pinochet's reign of endless kidnappings, beatings, and murders, the international community convinced the general to hold a general election. Why he agreed remains a mystery to me and Pablo Lorrain's "No" does little to resolve this mystery. However, it does present a charming look at how that political campaign unfolded. Despite the seriousness of the topic, Lorrain manages to entertain while educating us.

René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal) was an advertising man who became the unlikely foil to Pinochet. He is in charge of getting the populace to vote No on the referendum, in an effort to bring down the general. His tactics run counter to what others on his side believe to be the correct method to achieve their goal. While they want to run negative ads and smear Pinochet with as much as possible, Saavedra's plan is to go positive by using rainbows and smiley faces in his campaign. It seems incredibly illogical and certainly bears no resemblance to campaigning in the United States. "No" primarily focuses on Saavedra's campaign and the reactions and results that it brings.

The story follows a sometimes anticipated path, with slight detours interspersed throughout. By the time we reach the final results of the campaign, it is difficult not to be somewhat enthralled by all we view here.

However, despite "No" being a fun watch and a serious examination of a very heavy topic in Chile's history, the decision to shoot the film in a grainy way in order to mimic the technology of the era, serves as a distraction rather than as a dose of realism. "No" is good filmmaking, but it falls short of greatness. It's worth seeing, though. Just say yes to seeing "No".

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