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Scare tactics

In 1988, the Chilean government was forced to enact a referendum wherein the population would vote whether to keep then president/dictator Augusto Pinochet in power. A "yes" vote meant he stayed, "no" meant that democracy would win out and an election would be held to elect a new leader.

"No," Oscar-nominated last year for Best Foreign Film, tells the story of ad executive René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal, in one of his best performances), who was recruited to spearhead the No campaign. The film shows how Saavedra cannily used the language of advertising to turn the tide of the campaign and overthrow a fascist regime. Instead of depressing the public by focusing on the atrocities committed under Pinochet's regime, Saavedra saw that the way to victory was by packaging happiness itself. His campaign highlighted the positivity that would come with the freedom of democracy by creating ads that resembled soda commercials more than anything else, complete with a catchy jingle.

Though "No" is actually the final entry in director Pablo Larraín's trilogy about the Pinochet regime, following 2008's "Tony Manero" and "Post Mortem" in 2010, it's not necessary to have seen those film to appreciate "No." Larraín keeps the film light and funny enough so the two-hour running time zips by. Half historical drama, half satire, "No" documents the point when the Venn diagram of marketing and politics officially became a circle.


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