A gripping and almost educational retelling of the 1988 Chilean national plebiscite, award-winning film No is worth a watch.
No follows the progress of a thirty day campaign leading up to the day when Chile would vote for or against keeping their dictator, Pinochet. Voters could select "yes" to keep their dictator for another eight years, or "no" to boot him out in favour of democracy. If you have a vague knowledge of Chile, you know the outcome of the election before watching the movie. However, it is more about the journey than the results.
The campaign is regarded as one of the first instances of advertising and marketing being just as important in an election as the policy itself. As the film shows, the "Yes" campaign and the "No" campaign were each given fifteen minutes a day of television programming for the month leading up to the election.
As the name suggests, No is chiefly about the "No" campaign. A young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra, takes on the challenge of a campaign which everyone felt was sure to lose. While the context of the story is real, Rene is a fictional character. He carries the film as he attempts to put together the perfect compaign that will not only convince the people to vote "No", but also overcome the obstacle of them being too afraid to cast their vote.
The dialogue is in Spanish, with English subtitles. While the actors are expressive, as a non-Spanish speaker it is hard to follow what is going on if you're not reading the subtitles.
No has received criticism for not being an accurate portrayal of the referendum. Accused of simplifying history and focusing on the final thirty days of what was in actual fact a much longer campaign, No is far from being a documentary despite being based in truth. Real historical footage is interspersed amongst the film, weaved in seamlessly with the scenes shot last year on a U-matic video camera from 1983.
While I enjoyed the film, I wouldn't watch it more than once. With it's involved and nuanced plot, No isn't an easy film. It's interesting rather than entertaining, with few light moments.
No is currently showing in cinemas. I saw it at Palace Brighton Bay, but it is also showing at some mainstream movie theatres.