September 2, 2014

NO Cannot Be Denied

 

<i>NO</i> Cannot Be Denied

Director Pablo Larrain and actor Gael Garcia Bernal create a foreign stunner.

Finally making its way to the states after a lengthy run in its native Chile, the Academy Award-nominated (Best Foreign Language) picture, NO, makes an impression regardless of location.

Externally, Pablo Larrain’s film is about the nation’s first election in 15 years to determine whether General Augusto Pinochet would remain in power. The film’s center comes from the not-so-tacit understanding of the power advertising has on elections. The decision to film using low-fi, three-quarter-inch Sony U-tape is inspired. It was the medium of choice in Chile during the ‘80s that automatically transports you to the era without any corny side effects. The film screams authenticity. From the seamless integration of actual police crackdowns and riot control to the inner workings of advertising, the director lays it all out.

Gael Garcia Bernal plays perfect foil for the director as Rene, the ad consultant and chief architect of the NO campaign. As Rene, he’s the anti-Don Draper in many ways, leading with style over substance but, moreover, being susceptible to the repercussions of his decisions that affect him and his countrymen. Bernal’s performance is subtle and best read between the lines.

For Larrain, this is an evolutionary leap in his work, as he is now able to compliment a powerful story with his always clever camerawork. NO is effective in that it marks a very specific tipping point in which advertising in elections became more powerful than the overall message. Whether that proves to be a lamentable cautionary tale or something to consider for future reference, it’s a discussion in principle that targets the elephant in the room about politics that American cinema has yet to do.

It would be satire except that it’s too real to be funny. Dig deep to find NO. You won’t be disappointed. ­­­