As Give Me Liberty opens, we hear and then see a bedridden man who tells of being told he would never walk again, and finding that it was true. But he goes on to say, “Life, it is what it is. Life is wonderful. It’s beautiful. I love life. I love everything about life, even the ducks, chickens, rats. Love conquers all. If you’ve got love, you have everything.” This monologue (and additions to it as the story takes place) are not really a part of the story, but set the tone for the dark comedy that evolves.
Vic (Chris Galust) is a medical transit driver who is about to set out on a very bad day. He’s running late trying to get his grandfather up. His grandfather has a funeral to attend that day, along with many other elderly Russian emigres. When he must return home because his grandfather has set off smoke detectors cooking, the crowd of funeral goers demand he take them to the funeral since their van hasn’t shown up. Along with them is Dima (Maxim Stoyanov) a boxer or conman who claims to be the deceased’s nephew. Vic has to pick up others along the way. Already far behind schedule he keeps making promises of “five or ten minutes. Soon the all of the people in the van are all complaining and chaos develops. It only gets worse as a protest has the main route blocked.
Vic may seem like the epitome of irresponsibility (especially to his boss), but the problems stem from his desire to help others. Of course, in the attempt to help so many at once, it means that everyone ends up getting less than they want.
The one thing that nearly everyone in the film has in common is that they all suffer from some sort of disability. Some are physically challenged, some mentally, some from the frailty of aging. Everyone seems to be trying to deal with life that has many roadblocks to hinder them. (Just as the protest blocks Vic’s way to deliver everyone where they need to go.) These are all people that society ignores. Even for the transport company, they are only freight to be delivered. But Vic responds to their needs—even if it is not in a timely way. The film uses a number of non-professional actors mixed in with a few professionals. That serves to enhance the aspect of the film giving voice to a part of society that is often unheard.
As the day wears on, the animosity between people begins to shift into a sense of community. There is a recognition that everyone has needs. We may demand that our needs be met, but it may mean that someone else’s needs are deferred. Or we may learn that we need to defer our needs for some that are important to others. In a world that constantly moving more to a “me first” expectation (“America First” is only a larger variation of that concept), it is refreshing to be reminded that others need help just as much as we do—sometimes their needs must supersede our own.
Photos courtesy of Music Box Films