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GIVE ME LIBERTY

★★★

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE, LENGTHILY EXECUTION

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
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By Chris dos Santos
3rd August 2019

Editing is one of the most important parts of filmmaking: it can make a joke land, add an extra punch to that emotional beat, or provide the perfect jump scare - the list goes on. ‘Give Me Liberty’ is, unfortunately, another great example of a film that needed a few more cuts before it hit cinemas.

While having personal issues of his own, Vic (Chris Galust) drives disabled people around town while also helping them in their daily lives. The film follows him on one crazy day where not only does he have to deal with his usual clients, he also offers to take a group of Russian seniors to the burial of their friend. Through a series of compactions and hijinks, both groups get delayed with their days - and for Vic, it could mean losing his job.

The film clocks in just under the two-hour mark, and it's really a shame because the longer it goes on the more and more disconnected and lost the audience becomes. The acting and writing are phenomenal, but the film needs to be tighter to pull off its loose narrative structure; it's very unfortunate because this could have been brilliant. I was loving being with this unusual pairing of people and seeing all of those different personalities clashing, but by the end I felt disinterested.

While the whole cast is quite talented, newcomer Lauren Spencer outshines them all. She's one of Vic's clients and is suffering from ALS. Her character goes through a range of emotions, being the most vocal about having to be stuck in a van with the seniors, while also dealing with troubles in her relationships.

This could have been a really powerful film, but due to many lengthy scenes that drain it sadly fails.

One other issue with the film is while it's loose in its narrative, early in act one there's a set-up of riots happening in the city and the group get turned around and carry on their journey. In the back of your mind you know that it will come back, but when it does the film has less than 20 minutes left, so most of the emotional investment you had in the characters is lost due to the film wafting around. The film wants to hit hard with a big punch of social commentary, but it just comes across flat.

‘Give Me Liberty’ could have been a really powerful film, but due to many lengthy scenes that drain it sadly fails. The cast gives their all, and I hope to see these faces again - I just wish the filmmakers sat in the edit suite a little longer.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 50m
CAST: Chris Galust
Lauren Spencer
Maxim Stoyanov
Darya Ekamasova
Steve Wolski
Michelle Caspar
Anna Maltova
Arkady Basin
Sheryl Sims-Daniels
Zoya Makhlina
DIRECTOR: Kirill Mikhanovsky
WRITERS: Kirill Mikhanovsky
Alice Austen
PRODUCER: Alice Austen
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