No Review

No is just about the most fun word to say in this world.

If you don’t believe me, just try talking to any two year old you know.

Do you want to eat the rest of your vegetables?

No!

Can you stop chewing the remote control?

No!

Are you ready to go to bed?

No!

See; it’s short, sharp, snappy and you can say it with real feeling.

Luckily for today’s new young things of Chile, their ancestors of yesterday also liked saying no.

The year is 1988 and Rene Saavedra is a privileged son of Chile who gets to live under the rule of Maggie Thatcher’s bestest friend, the vile murdering dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Too strong, or not nearly strong enough?

Anyway, Saavedra lives in a house, a very big house in his country along with his only son, their cleaning lady but not his estranged and revolutionary wife.

Of course there’s a price to pay for all this commercial happiness, and Rene spends his days working as a creative director of an advertising company.

Which mostly means dressing models up as clowns to try and get more people to buy some Chilean soft drink called Free.

Who says mass murdering dictators don’t get irony?

So when an opportunity comes along to work on a project that could force Chile’s less than benevolent dictator out of office, Saavedra throws all his energy into the opposition’s No campaign and starts selling happiness like no one else can.

But in the land of the disappeared, the risks our idealistic hero is taking in trying to create a new Chile for his fellow countryman and a better future for his young son are grave.

Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, No is based on the real life Chilean referendum that finally forced the corrupt, evil, mass murdering Augusto Pinochet out of power.

I guess I’ve probably connected those two dots of mass murder and this military dictator pretty well by now, but actually that’s kind of the point of No; that we don’t forget the evil that took place in Chile’s under Pinochet.

And there’s a lesson there for us all to learn from No too, as the things we humanly take for granted but really shouldn’t continue to be stripped away by the old boys club we know as the conservative party.

Things like our welfare state, free public health service and even civil liberties have all come under attack since dave cameron came into power while his chummy pals continue to grow ever richer.

But I digress.

Now the first thing you’re going to notice about No is the god awful production values, which start to grate at first as we’re so used to high end, high tech films being served up to us in big screen cinemas.

But there’s actually a reason for this that doesn’t really become apparent til the final scenes, so stick with it.

The second thing you’ll most likely notice is how Gael Garcia Bernal stands apart as the only recognisable face in No; in fact, I even wondered if the reason for the low production values was that the producers spunked their entire budget on getting this Mexican movie star on board.

Of course that’s not the case; Bernal is just one of the bravest actors around who commits himself to projects he truly believes in.

That, and he’s also one of the most talented actors around right now.

There’s not that much more to say about No without giving it away, and if you know anything about modern Chile then chances are you already know how it’s going to end.

Still, there’s no other film more worthy of your attention on release right now.

So if you find yourself at your local cinema this weekend, just say no.

Jonathan Campbell

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