On Oct. 5, 1988, after 15 hard years under a dictatorship, the Chilean public voted No — as in, Enough already — in a historic national plebiscite that removed Gen. Augusto Pinochet from power. Pablo Larraín’s superb, Oscar-nominated, fact-based drama, No, explores the power of popular dissent, and the coordinated persuasions of media, marketing, and targeted advertising in shaping the word no to invigorate a populace pessimistically conditioned to think that nothing will ever change for the good.
Gael García Bernal is typically soulful as a (fictional) adman — more politically engaged than Mad Men’s Don Draper — who devises the effective and unexpectedly upbeat campaign, even while his agency boss (Alfredo Castro) works for Team Yes. One other nice Mad Men touch: The movie — the third in a trilogy of powerful political dramas from Larraín, including Tony Manero and Post Mortem — uses period detail, archival footage, and ’80s-era technology to create an excellently authentic, bleached, crummy-looking document of a great democratic accomplishment. A