A conversation begins between the young Duc de Wand (Baptiste Pinteaux) and the Duc de Walchen (Helmut Berger). Maybe Wand is telling him about spreading freethinking in Europe or maybe to overthrow the Ancien Regime.
Liberté starts with that conversation, but as day turns into night, these characters put their conversations on hold. They retreat into the woods and begin an orgy with no sexual boundaries, where there are no taboos.
Director Albert Serra, to his credit, both has a bold, although wildly incorrect perception of sexuality and time. He makes his audience feel all of his film’s 132 minute running time, reflective of his characters’ sexual impulses.
It’s also a version of old school prurience, where its deviant practitioners are more patient, to their detriment. Period pieces are inherently beautiful, but Serra shows its ugly side, as the bourgeois swim in viscera.
I’ll concede that Serra knows more about the Ancien Regime than I do, since he’s made films about it. But it feels like Serra is reliant on syllogistic assumptions about people who have their sexual kinks.
Bad people are either oblivious parts of the establishment, or people trying to watch it burn down. Liberté makes us watch them have joyless sex to make them more unsympathetic to a supposedly oblivious audience.
And I get it not all sex is good, but the film’s negative view of it feels definitive. As someone who has done at least one of the acts Serra shows, this is a wild misrepresentation.
For more information on go to Liberté https://www.tiff.net/events/liberte.
- Release Date: 9/5/2019