No is a powerful word that typically has a negative connotation associated with it. For the citizens of Chile in 1988, no was their only chance to have a voice and vote out their current dictator Augusto Pinochet and vote in a new president. It was a chance for change, a chance for freedom. No would be the focal point of a campaign that would dominate the 1988 Chilean national plebiscite.

Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Rene Saavedra, the creative director in charge of the advertising for the ‘No’ campaign against Pinochet. For the first time in history, both sides are given equal opportunity to represent their campaign in 15 minutes of television ads for 27 nights. In that time, Saavedra must convince everyone that no is better than yes.

No is based on the true events that happened in Chile in 1988 and as a result, is a very information heavy film. It can be difficult to understand what is happening, especially towards the beginning when all the players are being introduced. It’s one of those films where knowing the actual events the film is based on helps tremendously. Still, it’s a film worth watching.

It’s amazing what goes into an advertising campaign, and No expertly explores all the fine details associated with it. Even if you’re not reading the subtitles, it’s easy to understand the message present. There’s even a catchy theme song that goes along with each TV spot that’s easy to get stuck in your head. Basically, it’s everything you’d expect out of a well-executed campaign.

Even the cinematography takes audiences back to a time when digital was nonexistent and VHS tapes were the go-to medium. No was filmed using these same low resolution tapes TV reporters used at the time to give it that 1988 feel. There are even moments where actual footage is used to further blur the lines between reality and fiction.

The best thing about No is that gets you interesting in the subject matter, whether you’re familiar with it or not. I knew nothing about the 1988 Chilean national plebiscite going into the film and coming out I wanted to learn more. It’s a difficult film to watch and fully grasp, but in the end, you’ll be pleased you did.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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