Military dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum to decide his permanence in power in 1988, the leaders of the opposition persuade a young daring advertising executive - René Saavedra - to head their campaign. With limited resources and under the constant scrutiny of the despot's watchmen, Saavedra and his team conceive of a bold plan to win the election and free their country from oppression. Written by
a nostalgic celebration of a defining moment in a small country's big history
Pablo Larrain's "No" has been short listed for the academy award for best foreign language film, though I completely forgot about this as I was drawn in by the story, once the lights were back on and I started going over the film in my head, I was - though pleasantly - very surprised by the academy's decision. Intermitted with the somewhat weak personal story of Rene with his son and ex-wife, a large part of the movie plays out in a celebratory tone as a trip down memory lane extravaganza for the Chilean collective conscious.
Now I don't mean to say people not from Chile will not be able to enjoy this film, but starting in the first minutes with the commercial for FREE COLA to the part where they actually had now 94 year old ex President Aylwin in a cameo role that made me and my family jump up and scream "was that really him?" so much of the meat of this movie lies in its faithful reproduction of a sometimes uncomfortably near past for us Chileans.
This being said, audiences of all nations and sizes will be able to appreciate the mature and paced unraveling of this most unexpected work of cinema. The film does not seek to tackle the big unresolved conflicts of our long decades of dictatorship and the questionable transition to democracy (and this is perhaps appropriate given the history and context of the film director himself) but rather tells a story of an ad man and how he put in his two cents in a time of changing institutions and a time when a suddenly modern Chile was looking with optimism to a new millennium.
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