Young Critics Review: Libertad
How much is an individual prepared to sacrifice for the ultimate privilege in life—unconstrained freedom? Clara Roquet’s feature debut Libertad explores this question through multiple narrative lines, all told from a female perspective.
Weaving together an intense coming-of-age friendship story, modern family drama and social commentary about migration, class differences and the liberal elite’s hypocrisy, Roquet carefully outlines the responsibility each character decides (not) to wield when making decisions that affect the collective quality of life, regardless of the magnitude of their implications. Drawing inspiration from ordinary events, Libertad is easily relatable for viewers from different age groups and social strata. The naturalistic acting of its cast makes the movie even more approachable, especially during the scenes where the camera follows Nora, an introverted teenager, played by Maria Morra Colomer with an underrated subtlety and no puberty-induced melodrama. While the family matriarch’s struggle with Alzheimer’s serves as a (relatively underdeveloped) central thread in the plot, the movie spends more time on the archetypal relationships between three generations of its female dyads: mother and daughter, niece and grandmother, friends, employer and employee.
As the movie progresses, the characters try to gain (their definition of) freedom to live without any age restrictions, family rules and socio-economic factors. Unfortunately, much as the movie seems to lack a spark of energy to fully come alive, its characters end up almost at the same place the audience meets them in the opening scenes, despite all of the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.
As a psychologist and researcher by day, a film and theatre critic by night, I’m infinitely curious about the human psyche and continuously drawn toward critical thinking for a simple reason: just like a kaleidoscope, everything in life (and in art) depends on your perspective. I started publishing my film and theatre reviews in 2012 and promptly became aware of the lack of mentorship opportunities in North Macedonia. This led me to co-found Gledaj.mkc.mk, the only online platform devoted to film and theatre criticism in the country, focused on mentoring young writers.
Whenever I’m asked about my “favourite” something (it being anything, from a country to a type of food), my default answer is “I don’t believe in the concept of having favourites”. Sometimes I follow this up with a philosophical explanation of my stance: having a favourite, for me, implies that I have had the opportunity to sample all the available varieties of the subject in question, which is simply not possible, for obvious reasons. Other times (such as now) I will vaguely answer the question by mentioning a specific experience that has piqued my interest lately.
While re-watching the original Ghost in the Shell (directed by Mamoru Oshii in 1995) for the umpteenth time last summer, my thoughts lingered on the question: what does it mean to be human, especially in the middle of a global (health and economic) crisis? The multilayered anime suggests a fundamental, yet often overlooked answer: connecting with other people, regardless of the physical boundaries of our everyday lives. A well-thought-out synecdoche of the movie is the melancholic boat scene, which brilliantly encapsulates the “ghost” in this cinematic “shell”. Each time I hear Motoko’s ghost saying "What We See Now Is Like A Dim Image In A Mirror. Then We Shall See Face To Face", a cycle of deep self-reflection starts anew.
Top three anticipated FFG Films
When attending a festival, my strategy usually consists of three steps: 1) temporarily ‘forgetting’ everything I know about certain films, directors, actors, etc.; 2) watching as many films as humanly possible, without any expectations or preconceived notions; and 3) “remembering” my previously forgotten knowledge and analyzing the watched movies in a wider socio-political and historical context. This year is special because I haven’t been to an international film festival since the COVID-19 crisis started and I’m super excited about attending the Film Fest Ghent. That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing: Bergman Island (2021) by Mia Hansen-Løve, Captain Volkonogov Escaped (2021) by Natasha Merkulova & Aleksey Chupov and The Year of the Everlasting Storm (2021) by Jafar Panahi, Dominga Sotomayor, Malik Vitthal, David Lowery, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Laura Poitras & Anthony Chen.