Ad exec René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal) is introduced pitching a campaign for a cola called Free. Though Saavedra’s father was a political exile, he’s established a comfortable middle-class home for his own son. All of this is put at risk when Saavedra, approached for his expertise by a representative for the seventeen motley opposition parties, agrees to act as a consultant on their “No” TV spots, streamlining their dissent into a single cogent message to crack the dictatorship’s calcified consensus and sell, yes, freedom.
While Saavedra uses the grammar of commercial advertising to sell Chileans democracy, Larrain’s film works within an aesthetic template of its own: the language of contemporary hand-held cinematic realism. By shooting on 3/4” Sony U-matic magnetic tape, the standard format of pre-1990 television news, Larrain can seamlessly mesh staged material with vintage 1988 footage of actual police crackdowns and pro-democracy assemblies.
March 22-28, 2013