Movie Review: 'No' -- 3 stars

Gael García Bernal in "No"

Gael García Bernal in "No" (Credit: Gael García Bernal in "No")

3 stars
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Starring Gael García Bernal
Rated R
In Spanish with English subtitles

Form meets content in "No," a new docudrama from Chilean director Pablo Larraín that's nominated for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

The story of an ad man assisting the 1988 campaign against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is shot with U-matic video, which gives the movie the grainy, washed-out look and feel of a commercial or news broadcast from the era and lets the director seamlessly blend documentary footage into his narrative work.

The result is a fascinating period re-creation if not an especially compelling drama. It's hard to be fully immersed in the personal plight of main character René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal) because the filmmaker so resolutely calls attention to his technique.

Still, the '88 referendum against Pinochet was one of the most important moments in Chilean history, a time when the people said "enough" to years of hardship.

Larrain's intellectual approach enhances his central argument: That advertising played an essential role in fighting the dictatorship, peacefully and humorously making the case for a freer Chile. It's the blueprint for a successful revolution, carried out without firing a shot.


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