We have been everywhere , from Midgard to the desert planet Tatooine, from underground to outer space but damn if we have ever seen an American movie playing out in the travel service.
More exotic than that can hardly be.
For 110 intense (an understatement) minutes, we follow the rickety American Vic who, while trying to do his job, caring for people with various disabilities, is also forced to take care of his demented grandfather - and additionally feels urged to help a whole horde of old immigrated Russians to come to a funeral in time.
It is a young man with seemingly endless empathy and sense of duty. He cruises back and forth in the city, with the bus full of needy and to varying degrees demanding people, is constantly lagging in his schedule, while the man from the connection center always yells in the comedy radio that Vic must hurry.
Filmmakers Alice Austen (script) and Kirill Mikhanovsky (director, screenplay) give us a hopeful (we might call it "life-affirming", if it were not such a quasi-fine word) story of human affinity across racial and functional boundaries; yes, across most boundaries one can imagine. This is a pure diversity party. Talent hunting at the day center, Russian pensioners strolling around a sheltered workshop, the cp-injured artist and love over the wheelchair barrier. And then a little rubbish noise in town.
And all that without falling into pathos sentimentality or build-up. This is not the case here, in this constant forward movement that makes the average road movie look like a plausible day walk.
It's like a lush mix of Emir Kusturica and an early Jim Jarmusch. At the same time noisy and laconic, absurd and realistic. In other words, a lot of the 1990s - the golden decade of the American indie film when the genre's work was really small and independent, not as now degraded productions marketed by the big companies under fancy Indian headlines.
It is also a creation that produces stress. The question is whether or not Give me liberty even beats Netflix's current Adam Sandler mania Uncut gems in terms of cortisol secreted per minute. It is painfully painful, it is wonderfully stressful but unfortunately also a bit repetitive repetitive. There is a point to that, of course, Mikhanovsky and Austen want to put us in Vic's hunted shoes, but at the same time give us too little mental meat on our legs for the film to move from fun and heartfelt, to full-fledged drama. Who is this stoic young Vic? Why Jesus so good?
We are waiting for a reaction that will never come.
At the same time, it is a unique and fast-paced film, which despite its objections is undoubtedly an attraction. I do not want to scare anyone with the sad grading tree away from the experience to join in the first travel service drama of film history.