No is the last movie of a trilogy made by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain. The films are about his country’s political landscape. The latest movie is about the 1988 national referendum that unseated a dictator.
The series is known as The No Redemption Trilogy. The first is Tony Manero released in 2008, which is set in the darkest days of the dictator’s 15 year reign. Alfredo Castro is a psychopath who wants to be Chile’s best John Travolta impersonator.
It is followed by Post Mortem in 2010. It is about characters employed at a morgue during the 1973 coup d’état that led to the death of President Salvador Allende and made Pinochet the leader of the country. The protagonist is Mario, also played by Alfredo Castro. He is an obsessive and delusional. He ends up killing his neighbors, knowing that their deaths, along with hundreds of others in the day after the coup, will not be investigated.
No is the latest. It is about the campaign that promised Chileans freedom and affluence. Here the director illustrates the practiced emotional detachment of Chile’s survivors. It is set in 1988 and Rene (Gael Garcia Bernal) represents the younger generation of survivors who grew up in exile. He doesn’t have any nationalistic sentiments and no political attachments. He designs the No campaign for the national referendum that year. He tries to convince Chileans to vote no. Lucho, his boss, owns the advertising company and is old enough to be his father. He is an advisor to a Pinochet government minister.
The No campaign tries to get Chilean voters to take the referendum seriously. Rene’s wife Veronica (Antonia Zegers) is a committed activist and thinks that the referendum is fixed in favor of Pinochet.
The cast performs well with the script made by Pedro Peirano. It is cynical, clever, and entertaining. It shows Rene circling back to what he was doing before the referendum. It suggests that the country is doing the same.