Recontextualize Mad Men as a political thriller and it might look like this absorbing, thought-provoking film from Chilean director Pablo Larrain. A popular and critical hit at Cannes earlier this year, No is Larrain’s third meditation on the fall-out from the coup in Chile that toppled Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government in 1973 to install a military dictatorship. The focus this time is on the famous plebiscite that a reluctant Pinochet regime, bowing to international pressure, held on its future in 1988. Gael Garcia Bernal plays René, a successful, brainy ad man who, after agreeing to oversee the anti-Pinochet side’s TV campaign, finds himself pitted against his boss (Larrain staple Alfredo Castro), orchestrator of the pro-Pinochet campaign. A Google check will give you the referendum’s result; nevertheless, Larrain keeps the tension high while casting a wary eye on the ambiguities inherent in the advertising enterprise.
At VIFF: Oct. 1, 1 p.m., Granville 7; Oct. 4, 10:30 a.m., Granville 7
At TIFF: Sept. 10, 6 p.m., TIFF Bell Lightbox; Sept. 11, 3 p.m., Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
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