Gael Garcia Bernal Stars in NO, the Oscar Nominated Film from Chile

NO poster

Liz López
Rating B-

Nominated for an Oscar this year in the category Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, NO from Chile has had a theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles since February 15th and now Austin film fans will have the opportunity to view Director Pablo Larrain’s award winning film, written by Pedro Peirano based on Antonio Skármeta’s play. This film can be an eye- opener for people who are unfamiliar with the history of countries south of our American borders; particularly in reference to the history of los desaparecidos or “forced disappearance” as the term used in Wikipedia. What is more eye-opening to me is to see how many countries are listed as examples of desaparecidos; six of them in Latin America.

Having an affiliation with Spanish and bilingual publications for at least fifteen years, I slowly became more keenly aware of the term and history of these occurrences in several countries that I otherwise might not have since I am Texas born and raised. It is different when a person from another country tells you in person or by phone interview about what it is like, as opposed to reading about it in a newspaper, history book or viewing it in a film. NO is not a doucumentary, but Peirano’s screenplay does have some of the images of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet’s leadership that has disregard for human rights. The focus is on how in 1988 the Chilean people were rallied into becoming united to vote NO to extend Pinochet’s rule for eight more years, after already being in office 15 years, through an election campaign lead by a young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal).

The story conveys how Saavedra’s campaign ideas were not met with favor by some of the opposition leaders for the NO, as they wanted to stick with using recurrent images reminding voters of the grim instead of what could be. Skillful in his craft and style, Saavedra continues forth with positive messages, rallying up diverse groups to deliver the NO message in creative, artistic manners that I found very appealing in the film. There may have been limited time and resources to deliver the message to the people, but through taping of song, dance and other performances, the message of a joyful future without Pinochet’s rule was delivered.

Despite some of the men in suits who opposed the campaign they considered too soft, not to mention what else they called it, registered voters went to the polls in numbers not seen in Travis County in a long time to vote NO, thus ousting Pinochet defeated, with almost 56% of the vote.

All of the cast members deliver excellent performances, starting with Bernal as the quite, yet determined creative; René‘s estranged wife, Verónica Caravajal (Antónia Zegers), a radical activist; Alfredo Castro as Lucho Guzman, René‘s boss at his day job and a high-ranking member of Pinochet‘s advisory board. Of course, all the actors who portrayed frumpy men in suits acting all macho are spot on and really made me laugh. It is interesting to hear some of the comments in the film by the machistas in the late 1980s as people in the US are currently discussing equality. See the film to know what I mean.

The MPAA rates the film R for language, but of course there is violence in the occasional graphic images on screen from the historical footage, so this should be kept in mind when deciding to take children to this particular film.

For more information on the list of nominations and awards this film has received, visit and see the film to see how Gael Garcia Bernal shines. The cinematography of the close up shots of Bernal are fabulous; not because of his gorgeous face, but how this actor can say so much without saying a word.
[Source: Sony Classics and Wikipedia]


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