Give Me Liberty by Kirill Mikhanovsky is a film full of beautiful contradictions. It is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. There is a stark contrast between its Milwaukee’s frozen cold, bleak setting and, the light and warmth it procures. From the first second of an opening monologue, one can tell it is going to be a film that will be moving and hopeful despite all the bad in the world. Or, the kind that can break your heart in many ways, good or bad, and can easily make you shed tears of joy and sadness.
Give Me Liberty follows Vic (Chris Galust), a medical minibus driver, around town on a manic day. He is already late for work but decides to take in relatives in need, even if it is against protocol and will delay his clients. Along the way, he is also helping everyone he can. We see him running around collecting/delivering folks all over town, driving recklessly fast as the pressure builds, and his passengers are constantly arguing/complaining or causing mayhem in the van.
A notorious passenger is Dima (Maxim Stoyanov), a “Russian boxer stereotype,” who somehow transpires as shady, but with a big heart and matching charisma. He offers many of the much-needed breathers in fun/comical, and even poetic scenes.
Another one is Tracy (positive YouTuber Lauren “Lolo” Spencer), a fierce young black woman with ALS. She is wheelchair-bound for most of the movie, but apart from needing an adequate mode of transportation, Tracy is also defying stereotypes being the most in-charge person of the film and the provider of her house.
“Vic is what real heroes (should) look like”
And, last but not least, a Russian choir, consisting of Vic’s demented grandfather, neighbors and elderly members of their community, going to a funeral. The bickering bunch is an odd one, often breaking into songs at the most inopportune moments! They are a delight for viewers, but not so much for Vic as he feels pressured to ensure their well-being all the steps of the way, herding them and making sure they arrive at the cemetery on time, because that just how he is: He genuinely and altruistically cares.
"…bringing it back to the real thing: the people"