Directed by: Pablo Larrain
Written by: Pedro Peirano based on a play by Antonio Skarmata
Stars: Gael Garcial Beirnal as Rene’, Antonia Zegers as Veronica
This pseudo –documentary transports us into the world of Chile under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. In 1988 Pinochet, under international pressure, calls for a referendum to give himself another 8 year term as president.
Violence by the military is common, but most people have lost their will to overthrow the government. Enter Rene’ played by Gael Garcia Bernal, who you may remember from Y Tu Mama Tambien and Motorcycle Diaries. Rene’ is a young, advertising executive who is asked to create a campaign to get out the vote and reject Pinochet. He’s not about to set the world on fire, but he is a creative ad man. The challenge of the campaign makes Rene’ more daring.
Rene’ is a likeable character. He’s a devoted father who shares the custody of his son with his angry wife who we see beaten by the police. Veronica is the rebel in the family, and she constantly puts Rene’ down. Rene’ is a free spirit who takes his skateboard to work and also rides his motorcycle (he played a young Che Guevara in Motorcycle Diaries). We worry about his safety while he worries about his young son.
The major theme of the movie is the power of the media. Can a campaign be won based on what voters see on TV? We are manipulated every day by ads on TV, radio and the Internet. Our presidential campaigns spend millions on each candidate. But this took place in 1988, and there is a malaise in Chile-very few people are expected to go to the polls. The movie holds our interest as the two parties,” No” and “Yes”, try to outmaneuver each other. Meanwhile, the demonstrations and violence continue.
Check out this film nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards in 2013. It’s a history lesson for all of us and a warning.