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No Reviews

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The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ August 17, 2013
In 1988, Chilean citizens ended the rule of Augusto Pinochet after Chile's voters get inspired by a peppy ad campaign designed by an unconventional ad executive named Rene (a committed Gael Garcia Bernal)

"NO" tells the story of the creation of that campaign by focusing on a message of hope and by doing that delivers a message of how humans are motivated by messages of hope vs messages of doom - a pretty timely message considering how mudslinging politics are today.

As a film, "NO" relies on too many cinematic tricks to lend it its authenticity which sometimes blunt its message. The characters, except for Garcia Bernal's, are quite stock. And it is doubtful that any non-Chilean viewer can appreciate the severity of Pinochet's rule.

"NO" is a good watch and is at times quite smart. But it's not the home run it thinks it is.
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2015
Never underestimate the power of media!! Of course, the makers sidelined the other efforts that too contributed equally, if not largely, in freeing Chile from Pinochet's dictatorship. The focus here is on the ad campaign, and to an extent, it's appealing. Loses steam towards the ending, though.
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2014
Brilliant drama, No is one of those films that brings to light an important event in a country's history, and dramatises in order to make for a truly engrossing film going experience. The film focuses on the opposition to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and how an advertising executive comes up with a campaign to remove Pinochet. The story is well paced, and the cast display some powerful performances here, and really brings the dramatic element to life. The fact that this is based on true events makes this a worthwhile viewing, and makes for a memorable drama. No is powerful cinema, and at the heart of the film is a story of impossible odds and accomplishing the impossible, which in this case was to bring hope to an oppressed population. The story is well structured and compelling. For those wanting a terrific drama to watch No is a film that you should seek out, especially for the fact that it chronicles a true event, which makes for a truly engrossing picture. With a great cast at hand, an even more powerful story, No is truly a memorable drama about fighting oppression and giving a country hope for a far better future. No is a well crafted drama that is among the finest foreign films in the last few years. Expect something memorable with this one because, the true story of these events help define a new future for an oppressed country. Brilliant in showing the struggle, optimism and ultimately determination of those involved, No is a drama that you soon won't forget, and it is a subtle, yet effective drama that works well due to the story being thought provoking and powerful.
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2013
Skillful, witty and in the end sour depiction of the deceptive power behind the media, masquerades, fabricated truths, and the profound divisions of ideology and socioeconomical types in latin america. Either a denounce of the general public indiference and the futility of the democratic triumph or an important footnote in the short term mass media events that could shake or actually bring down a de facto government.
Super Reviewer
½ July 23, 2013
A gripping, intriguing look at a unique campaign and those that wanted to oust Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet out of power in 1988, led by a advertising executive (Gael Garcia Bernal), who leads a passionate group of people willing to risk their lives to bring justice and peace to their country. Directors Pablo Larrain and Pablo Iarrain fully capture a dangerous working environment and the lives of the people who wanted to change their country for the better. Bernal's performance is sublime, anchored by a terrific supporting cast and a director who decides to go for a "fly on a wall" perspective and grainy lenses that ultimately give it an authentic, dangerously realistic feel of it all. Not for everybody's taste given the pacing is definitely a little slower and this is a political through and through, but it is a terrific one at that, and one that should be viewed.
Super Reviewer
½ April 24, 2013
this is a very interesting film. the acting was wonderful and the dialogue very well written. as historical dramas go, this film was far more historical than it was drama, almost to the point of feeling like a documentary, but it carried enough interesting thematic elements and social commentary to make it very worthwhile.
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2013
With a magnetic performance by Bernal and appropriately filmed in videotape to recreate the looks of back then, this is an intensely engaging and thrilling account of an important episode of Chilean history and how dictatorship was defeated by a lot of courage and struggle.
Super Reviewer
March 12, 2013
In 1988, after fifteen years of one man rule, Chilean President Augusto Pinochet is forced by international pressure to accede to a plebiscite as to whether he is deserving of another eight year term. Lucho Guzman(Alfredo Castro), an advertising executive, has agreed to work for the yes side. He so believes in his cause that he does not even like his subordinate Rene(Gael Garcia Bernal) talking with Jose Tomas Urrutia(Luis Gnecco) who may or may not be a Communist but is definitely working for the no side to which Rene agrees to work for.

Set at a pivotal point in Chile's history, "No" shows not only how advertising actually managed to do some good for a change but also how it turned a negative to a positive, convincing Chile's population of the need for peaceful revolution, with a lot of inspiration coming from 'We Are the World.' Surprisingly, nobody goes that far below the belt in this year of Willie Horton. In any case, I have to agree with a recent New York Times article in wondering if it cannot possibly be this simple, as there is plenty of history here but no politics, as advertising shows the clueless leftists how it is all done. On the other hand, as much as Rene becomes enlightened over the course of the film, we do get many more scenes of him being a dutiful single father. I mean I love model train sets as much as the next guy but...
Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2013
Chile, 1988. Under pressure from the west, the ruling General Pinochet calls a referendum on whether he should remain in power for a further eight years. The numerous opposition groups work together in their campaign against the dictator and are labelled "Communists", regardless of their political leanings. In the weeks leading to the vote, the "Yes" and "No" campaigns are allotted 15 minutes of TV time each evening to put across their message. With the TV networks under the control of Pinochet, the "No" campaign's 15 minutes take on huge importance. A young advertising man (Bernal) is hired to lead the campaign against the wishes of his agency's head (Castro) who is working for the opposing "Yes" campaign.
The disparities of 'No' are as great as those which existed between the ruling and working classes of Pinochet's Chile. Larrain's film tells its hi-fi story in a lo-fi manner, like a biopic of Michael Bay directed by Robert Altman. The flashy (for 1988) nature of Bernal's American-inspired commercials are in stark contrast to the old-school video (think Altman's 1988 campaign expose 'Tanner 88') employed by Larrain. Bernal's character is the son of a left-wing dissident while Larrain's own father was a right-wing "Yes" voter. To the dismay of his socialist clients, Bernal sells their ideals with the same techniques he employs to flog Soap-Operas and Coke knock-offs. Rather than hiring a songwriter to compose an "anthem" for the campaign, Bernal uses a jingle-writer. (The jingle will be stuck in your head for days after seeing the film.)
Apart from a helpful scroll over the credits to explain the backstory, 'No' refuses to pander to its audience. You're either on board or you aren't. I for one was gripped from beginning to end. The lo-fi video format is jarring for a couple of minutes but, ultimately, it's a brilliant decision, one which transports you back to its era far more impressively than the Top-40 tunes and retro beards of the similarly themed 'Argo'. The images blend in perfectly with archive footage of the time without resorting to cheesy 'Forrest Gump' tricks. When Bernal gets caught up in a riot, it's a terrifying moment because it looks so authentic.
The great film-makers can take a big theme and distill it down to a smaller, more recognizable one. Against a larger backdrop, Larrain tells a simple story of an employee attempting to get one over on his boss. The relationship between the two is fascinating. Despite Castro at times threatening Bernal's family, the level of animosity simmers somewhere below the level of two co-workers who support rival football teams. It's a stark, and wholly refreshing, contrast to the black-and-white characterization rampant in modern cinema. Blunt self-congratulatory films like 'Argo' may be the choice of a generation but you would do well to just say 'No'. What's the worst that could happen?
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2012
Using a film making method to take the mind back to 70s film (albeit in a film set in the 80s), No chronicles the brave struggle of those who convinced a population to turn their backs on a dictator.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2013
You could almost think of this as hilarious satire until you remember all of it is true. The fact that the Chilean movement to remove Pinochet had to resort to "selling" freedom from oppression as a product (like a soft drink) in order to succeed is at once bizarre yet completely understandable.
Super Reviewer
February 23, 2013
With a dark humor and riveting performance from Gael Garcia Bernal, this Academy Award nominated foreign film from Chile takes a look at blooming democracy during a Chilean dictatorship in the 80's. Bernal plays an advertising executive, Rene Saavedra who is contacted to help lead the strike campaign in voting YES or NO in keeping the dictator in office, thus starting the debate for a real democracy. The film is shot in a strange aspect ratio and most often looks like a home video, VHS quality format, taking some of the enjoyment out of what should be an escapist media. Instead, you're focused on the poor quality and not the well told story or spectacular performances. However, the actual commercials and segments that are played are the highlight of the film and throughout the film you anticipate this moments where the commercials are played.
July 30, 2014
Interesting movie about an interesting subject. It's one main error, I think, was the decision to film it in a pseudo-documentary video style. It was distracting and unneeded. Otherwise, a solid movie.
February 15, 2013
Muddy, broken, small, exclusive. And that's just the lo-fi camerawork "No" director Pablo Larrain decided to use in portraying the 1988 referendum to either oust or re-elect Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet after international scrutiny to push the question of his power onto the people. Now, let's talk how to sell a vote. First you need a spearhead. That's ad exec Rene Saavedra (the chameleon Gael Garcia Bernal), hired by the NO campaign for his experience in the art of big corporate gimmicks.

That's right -- "art". Advertising comes from money, and so does politics. Both are in the business of leaving you chopped and screwed. Heavy stuff, yeah? Nope. In the hands of Larrain and screenwriter Pedro Peirano, "No" is big on laughs, huge and hardcore, lining serious culture shock with jovial '80s elegance, media influence, and the need for compromise under political impasse. It lacks the urgency of recent-period pieces like "Milk" or "Argo", but "No" still works as what strategy goes into getting something stuck in people's heads. So the whole thing's fixed. What matters is how much can be covered up if the scandal is catchy. (83/100)
July 22, 2013
A cunning and richly enjoyable combination of high-stakes drama and media satire from Chilean director Pablo Larrain.
½ February 27, 2013
No was perhaps the hardest film to market to cinema-goers this past year. While it did earn an Oscar-nomination for Best Foreign Language film, that is part of its marketing dilemma ... it is subtitled. No, the film, will namely appeal to foreign film enthusiasts but it will also only appeal to historians and political junkies as it is a period piece, dramatic depiction of a time of Chilean political upheaval during the final days of Augusto Pinochet's days in office as president when he called for a national plebiscite to determine the future of the South American nation. Instead of centering upon the political players, the film focuses upon advertising executive Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal - The Motorcycle Diaries) who was tasked with coming up with the NO campaign at the time -- NO being the opposition to the ruling president and his classist ideals. Tasked with something nearly impossible -- little to NO political opposition was able to be voiced, he was given little financial resources with which to create a winning campaign, and he was under constant watch/scrutiny by the political powers-that-be -- Saavedra persevered and did what he believed to be right for the masses of Chilean citizens oppressed by the Pinochet regime. Some historical knowledge of Chilean politics would probably come in useful here -- such as Pinochet's overthrow of Allende years before and the US's involvement in the situation; but isn't necessary. It'll help with context but if one has no interest in learning any of that I can most likely assume No would be of little to NO interest to him/her anyway. Some foreign film does not have the same production levels as we do in the United States and that is apparent here; but the story here is still good and it held my interest. It actually piqued my interest to learn more and it reminded me of how great a novelist Allende's niece, Isabel, is.
½ July 10, 2013
Imagine being able to weed out your enemies with a top-notch ad campaign. That's essentially the premise of No, a savagely funny, stinging satire on modern politics from Chilean director Pablo Larrain. It shows y ou how a despot can be defeated with ads. Ad exec Rene Saavedra (Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, excellent) is blindsided when his boss Lucho (Alfredo Castro) assigns him the task of taking on Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who basically has crushed all things democratic in Chile. From 1973, when the United States bolstered him to power with the CIA until his downfall 25 years later, Pinochet oversaw a reign of terror that included death squads and abductions. Rene, the son of an exiled Chilean dissident, must complete an ad campaign that brings hope to the masses by having them vote 'No' against Pinochet in a 1988 plebiscite. But Pinochet is not wi thout his powerful aid. Veronica (Antonia Zegers), Rene's former wife and mother of his son Simon (Pascal Montero) and an activist herself, warns him he's fighting a dangerous battle that's possibly hopeless. But like a Latin-American Don Draper, Rene presses on, developing a cheesy, feel-good campaign that looks like your average soda or junk food commercial. Everyone has a good laugh at first, but then the campaign begins to catch on and it starts to look like victory is in sight. Taken from a play by Chilean journalist Antonio Skarmeta, No, working from a tight, focused script by Pedro Peirano, is fascinating, if a little too simple. There were more substantial issues facing the country than ad campaigns. Larrain shoots on low-resolution video in order to match new footage with that of the original commercials, and it's a brilliant touch. And the subject of marketing and politics is more than timely. Larrain himself, the son of Pinochet supporters, is equally adept at taking on hypocrisies on the right and left, just as he did in his previous features now known as the Chile trilogy (Tony Manero, Post Mortem). An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language film, No is a film that grabs you hard and shakes you with real provocation. You can't resist it.
½ March 24, 2013
I should have been captivated, given fit between my own political beliefs and the film's depiction of the 1988 plebescite that ended the repressive military regime of Pinochet in Chile. At least the print I saw was truly terrible -- low-budget indie videos are better. And I thought the telling of the story was disjointed largely due to the focus on the adman central character portrayed by Bernal. He felt made up and phony.
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