How timely to watch a film about an advertising executive (Gael García Bernal) who develops a campaign to defeat a referendum proposed by Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet in 1988. Director Pablo Larrain’s Best Foreign Language nominee perfectly captures the period, which creates a mood and sense of prescience, in terms of the impact of marketing and branding on the electoral process.
Although to focus on this aspect alone would be a huge disservice, because No functions best as an almost faux documentary exploration of this pivotal moment in Chile’s political history and much of the praise for that should go to Bernal who, despite being a fairly recognizable presence on the independent scene (The Motorcycle Diaries, The Science of Sleep), blends chameleon-like into the story, yet firmly holds everything together and scores a huge win. Now open at Esquire Theatre. (R) Grade: A