True/False Review: ‘No’

Monday, March 4-

Set in 1988 Chile, the Oscar-nominated film “No” is a fiction film that tells the story of an era of fear and peril for many who lived under former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte’s terrifying regime.

International pressure for the general to assert his reign on the world stage brings about a mandatory referendum in which the Chilean population has the chance to vote “Yes” for another 8 years of his dictatorship or “No” for the promise of democracy. However Pinochet’s violent, militant style has many citizens paralyzed in fear of government retaliation for speaking out or plagued with bitter pessimism toward the idea that their votes can actually make a difference. Cue the chaos.

Protagonist Gael García Bernal stars as René Saavedra, a young, soft-spoken adman who, though at first reluctantly, spearheads the “No” side of the political campaign. Throughout the film he struggles with multiple conflicts in his awkward and confusing personal life with his flip-flopping wife and young son, as well as his budding advertising career under a boss who leads the “Yes” ad campaign. Bernal’s character’s frequent, somewhat childlike temper tantrums, thrown when things don’t go his way, put a damper on several parts of the film, however.

Overall, there isn’t a very diverse range of emotions expressed by any of the characters. In many areas that appeared to be intent on evoking sadness, empathy, or fear in the audience, Bernal and the rest of the cast fell short, and that sentiment was evident in the many periods of awkward silence that echoed through the theater.

“No” reflects the immense influence that both print and digital media can have on society and politics. This film shines light on the political affairs of an international government, which can be a worthwhile eye-opening experience for citizens who have grown up in democratic societies.

The movie has had successful runs in the world film industry. It has won awards at both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, and was picked up by Sony Picture Classics. Most importantly it received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

Moviegoers have been spoiled by the progression of vivid HD cinematography, so the film’s intentional 1980s home movie-type format is definitely an eyesore at times. But if you can suffer through a few minutes of screenplay filmed with cameras that have lower resolutions than an iPhone’s, you’ll be fully engrossed in this political heart-warmer in no time.

 

-Claudia Singleton

Staff Writer

The Prowl