The Cold War was a tremendously turbulent time. A couple years back, I read a book about the history of the CIA. In that fascinating history, a lot of the first decades of the organization dealt with combating communists. The Bay of Pigs may have been unsuccessful but there were many countries where the CIA successfully did some dirty, covert, James Bond-type shenanigans to stop the flow of communists in foreign governments. The problem, however was that the American-backed leaders were just as "bad" for their people as the communist leaders America was trying to stop.
"No" tells the true story which took place in Chile in 1988. General Augusto Pinochet (The real Pinochet is scene in the film through archive footage.) spent the last fifteen years ruling Chile as a dictatorship. Facing international pressure, elections are returning to the country of Chile for 1988. Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal) is a successful advertisement creator, is approached by the "No" side committee to consult of their advertising proposals. While the "No" side isn't communist, per se, the "No" side wants a socialist economy. Which forces Saavedra to work secretly, as many people in his life, including his boss, are very pro-Pinochet. The movie revolves around Saavedra, his time spent with the "No" committee, and the successes and struggles for creating a new Chile.
One thing I loved right away is the old school feel of the movie. The entire movie looks as if its shot from a standard, 80's video camera. I still can't get over how the filmmakers did that. The film feels like a found footage movie in which the reason for the footage being found is never explained. It gives the film a unique, authentic, luminous look. There is nothing quite like watching "No" and it is definitely a plus for the movie overall.
All of the acting is quite solid. If you don't know the name Gael Garcia Bernal, its time to get educated. In 2004, he played Che Guevara in "The Motorcycle Diaries" a movie I absolutely love. Bernal nailed the part like he nailed Saavedra in this film. He easily steals the show, and I am very much looking forward to anything else featuring this incredible actor. The rest of the cast is very good, and make us believe in everything these characters are trying to do.
The only real issue I had with the movie was the pacing. There are several slow moments which kind of took me out of the drama. The movie is nearly two hours long and the film definitely feels two hours long. But the story is well-told and the performances so rich that it didn't seem like a huge deal. The movie tells an incredible story and I was engaged.
FINAL GRADE: B+