In 1973, the duly elected president of Chile was deposed by his own military, led by Augusto Pinochet. That coup initiated a 15-year reign of terror characterized by hu- man rights abuses, murder, exile and some 3,000 “de- saparecidos,” citizens who displeased the dictator and suddenly disappeared.
In 1988, international pres- sure led to a plebiscite on Pinochet’s continuation in power: voters were asked to vote simply YES or NO.
In NO, Director Pablo Lar- rain details the advertising campaigns on both sides. Liberal sympathizer and ad- vertising executive René Saa- vedra (Gael García Bernal) is recruited to head the NO campaign – after all, a guy who can sell soft drinks can certainly devise a winning electoral strat- egy – though his boss Lucho Guzmán (Alfredo Castro), on Pinochet’s advisory board, warns that “this could be bad for you.”
René’s biggest challenge is getting out the vote: the as- sumption of a rigged election is strong, and nothing lowers the vote more than the conviction that your vote doesn’t count.Money counts too – and the “NO” forces are outspent 30 to 1 – but at least Chile limits politi- cal campaigns to only 27 days.
NO is the last in Larrain’s trilogy that includes “Tony Manero” and “Post Mortem.”