Give Me Liberty

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Give Me Liberty Movie Poster Image
Quirky comedy about immigrants has language, violence.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 110 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

We all have gifts we can share with the world. Compassion for others makes the world a better place. "God got a purpose for everything. We may not know what it is."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Vic is a kind young guy who tries his best to help others, but for many reasons can't get his life going.

Violence

A protest in front of a police station turns into a riot. Faces are bloodied and shots are fired.  After a minor fender-bender, one of the motorists involved threatens to keep the other drivers' credit cards and demands $500 immediately rather than going through normal channels.

Sex
Language

"F--k," "s--t," "ass," the "N" word, "damn," and "bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, at times to excess.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Give Me Liberty is a drama set in Milwaukee comparing the troubles of downtrodden Russian immigrants, the Black community, and the disabled in a narrative that's sometimes impressionistic and incoherent, sometimes whimsical, and sometimes tragic and moving. The words "f--k," "s--t," and "ass" are used repeatedly throughout a tough day experienced by a thoughtful young medical transport van driver. There's also use of the "N" word. Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, at times to excess. A protest in front of a police station turns into a riot. Faces are bloodied and shots are fired. After a minor fender-bender, one of the motorists involved threatens to keep the other drivers' credit cards and demands $500.

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What's the story?

GIVE ME LIBERTY looks at disparate communities in Milwaukee that converge through Vic (Chris Galust), who drives a transport van serving disabled people. The American son of Russian immigrants, Vic lives with his grandfather in a complex housing other Russian immigrants, many of whom need transportation one morning to the funeral of his grandfather's girlfriend. When their cab doesn't show up, Vic, already behind making his own pickups, has pity and loads up the elderly Russians for what he expects to be a quick ride to the cemetery. But protests in the nearby Black community have resulted in roadblocks so, while Vic's dispatcher keeps calling with obscenity-laced orders to hurry up, he can't get the Russians to the cemetery, he can't get the disabled to their educational center, and he can't get Tracy (YouTube Star Lauren Lolo Spencer), a wheelchair-bound social worker, to her appointment. The pressure mounts. A smiling freeloader named Dima (Maxim Stoyanov), claiming to be the deceased's only relative, comes along, stealing food and money good-naturedly wherever he can. More comic drama ensues as Vic tries his best to get everyone to their destination. 

Is it any good?

Jump cuts, abrupt editing, and little narrative guidance regarding where we are in time or place all make this movie a painful mess that nevertheless contains many fleeting, moving moments. Those moments include the tears of a Black family's sobbing matriarch, the joy of a man who can barely speak as he dances with an able-bodied man, and the touching advice lent by a quadriplegic who's fond of the local van driver who visits him.

Sadly, none of Give Me Liberty's individual bits hang together to create the overall sense that we all suffer no matter who we are or where we come from, probably the simple truth this well-intended filmmaker is trying to get at. Characters shout over each other, no matter what the situation. Even more unlikely and unconvincing, people discuss deep personal conflicts in front of strangers. Alice Austen's script is neither competent nor involving, and its weaknesses bring shame to the good work done by an interesting cast.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how seemingly inconsequential people can make such a difference in the lives of those in need. Why do you think Vic puts other people's needs ahead of his own in Give Me Liberty?

  • Dima seems to be a scam artist at first. How do you feel about him as the action proceeds? Does your opinion change? Why?

  • Do you think the attempt to show similarities in the struggles of immigrants, members of the Black community, and people with disabilities works here? Why or why not?

Movie details

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For kids who love quirky movies

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