Garcia Bernal is truly a cypher in this film. His expression rarely changes, and then only for a brief moment. During one triumphant scene, I kept waiting for him to smile, or register any sense of joy, but there was not much to see. The opposition leaders treated his ideas with disdain, and the regime threatened him and his son, so perhaps there was no comfort zone for him. His boss leads the TV campaign for the "Si!" vote, and they must still work together for their private clients, even as they exchange insults. The final scene is a mirror of the opening, which seemed out of place, considering the revolutionary upheaval that had just taken place. For the professional classes, did nothing really change?
This reminded me of what's important.
"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.
Why should you watch this movie?
Well Chile has a very interesting history, it is the only country in the world to elect a Socialist government & the only one in the world to oust a dictator without bloodshed. This movie intertwines movie with actual footage of the 'No' campaign & news reports of the time. It does it seamlessly too, making it feel like a documentary, shedding light on how an Advertising Exec campaigned against a Dictators regime in true 80's fashion.
On a side note; one of the things that started this whole thing was the fact that Pinochet wanted to be called President Pinochet, not General Pinochet., & he had to face the fact that he wasn't elected in. Thinking he could win an election, succumbing to international pressure, he decided to put it to a vote. Silly Billy.