'Give Me Liberty' Review With Casey
Oftentimes film critics describe what they see by categorizing films into genres or styles. But then films like Give Me Liberty come along that achieve such a uniqueness it's difficult to specify any genre boundaries. First released in August 2019, and now available through Netflix, Give Me Liberty is a gem of independent filmmaking that takes viewers on a hectic, crowded, one-day journey.
The leader of this journey is Vic (Chris Galust in his debut film role), a young Russian-American who works driving a medical transport van in Milwaukee for adults with disabilities; taking people to job interviews, talent shows, and restaurants. Vic's day doesn't unfold according to plan, with a protest closing down certain streets and an unexpected funeral procession of old immigrants pushing back his schedule. So many scenes are filmed in such a plain, unglamorous, frenetic (but patient) way, I didn't know if I should laugh out loud or shout at the screen. But that strange, awkward, and very uncommon mixture of moods is not the only part that makes Give Me Liberty special. It shows a rare intersectional portrait of present-day America but with people who are usually overlooked in such a portrait like adults with disabilities and the elderly. (Many ensemble members of the film are people with real disabilities and non-actors local to the Milwaukee area.)
More movies like this would be a refreshing standout amongst ordinary, overly-surveyed, Hollywood films. Any viewer who's had a difficult job with complaining customers, an annoying boss, and terrible hours will understand the reality of stressful working-class life and the unexpected relationships that can appear in it. The director (Kirill Mikhanovsky, who graduated from the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab) captures one day in working-class life so honestly simply because he uses no filters, no affectations, and very little dominion.
After Give Me Liberty received a handful of nominations at the Film Independent Spirit Awards earlier this year, I'm excited to see what this director does next. Using a disheveled, colorful, wild ensemble can create a surprising and offbeat film experience.