No Movie Review
Gael Garcia Bernal stars as an advertising executive in Chile who decides to take a risky approach to defeat dictator Augusto Pinochet's regime in the Oscar-nominated drama No. All hail the advent of marketing-oriented political campaigns!
Under increasing international pressure, the military dictator Pinochet buckled to pressure and agreed to participate in a special public vote that would determine whether he should be allowed to stay in office for another eight years, or whether a national election should be held the following year. Over the course of a month, both sides - the "Yes" campaign by the government and the "No" campaign by Pinochet's opponents - were given 15 minutes a night to state their case.
No is about the risky decision to focus less on Pinochet's atrocities and more on an upbeat, even humorous message. The campaign could have easily backfired, but in the end it worked amidst government intimidation and corruption.
Bernal gives a fine but unremarkable performance - at least when compared to some of his more prominent roles - and the movie depicts a story few in the United States are probably aware of. All in all, No is a decent movie.
But when all is said and done, it's a shrugworthy affair. Much of the second half of the movie is devoted to showcasing the commercials generated by the "No" campaign, which is interesting for a while but comes at the sacrifice of character development and a broader exploration of the Chilean political climate and tactics used by both sides.
In other words, No only scratches the surface. And for that reason, the average moviegoer won't find the movie worth the time investment.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.