No ★★★★

Film #92 of the June Challenge

The instant the Chilean film No begins, it's impossible not to be taken in by the distinctive cinematography captured with a rebuilt old U-matic camera. It looks like you're watching stock footage, which is interesting because actual stock footage is used. The two blend seamlessly and transport you to the time period effortlessly. This colorful and intelligent film brings to life an important moment in Chilean history from the perspective of Rene, an early-career advertising man. He is recruited to help with the campaign to vote NO against dictator Augusto Pinochet's possible new 8-year term. A tense, exciting drama, this film is less about patriotism than I thought it would be. It's more about the nuts and bolts of marketing and how one guy had the power to use this tool and his out-of-the-box thinking to change his country. Where the real brilliance of this film lies is that his motivations aren't what you'd expect.

I hope I'm not the only one who has noticed Gael Garcia Bernal has had an amazing career so far. He has the ability to melt into any role and makes it look insanely easy. Whether the character is likable or not, I feel drawn to him and want to know everything there is to know about him. He exudes confidence and authority for the most part and is able to be completely vulnerable when needed. He can run the full gamut of emotion, but his greatest strength is in his restraint. Here in No all that ability didn't go to waste in the slightest. The entire film rests firmly on his shoulders and he carries it like a champ. In essence, this is a character study more than anything else which is hard to notice given the importance of the historical event it's grounded in.

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