How do you follow a stark drama about the struggles of a small Brazilian fishing village? If you’re Kirill Mikhanovsky, you wait 13 years and then direct a madcap dark comedy about driving people with disabilities around Milwaukee. The Russian director’s latest, “Give Me Liberty,” is a complex ensemble piece about a man who just can’t seem to make anything go right.
Chris Galust plays a Russian-American driver of a medical van, who shuttles an eccentric cast of characters around the city on the day of a riot. He is committed to driving a group of elderly Russians to a funeral, but he also wants to help a young black woman with ALS, an Elvis-obsessed woman, and many more in this sprawling, chaotic movie.
The film, Mikhanovsky’s first feature since his 2003 debut “Fish Dreams,” draws from the director’s personal experiences. Before becoming a filmmaker, he worked as a medical driver in Milwaukee, shortly after immigrating from Russia. He says he set out to tell stories of the unique characters he encountered in that line of work, but the film quickly unravels into something far more complex than any day he could have lived. It never pauses to catch its breath, continuously hurtling the driver into unimaginable chaos.
In his Sundance review, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “Director Kirill Mikhanovsky’s sophomore effort is a breathless dark comedy that takes occasional tragic and bittersweet detours as it maps out the soft-spoken Vic’s hectic world. It doesn’t take long for Vic’s journey to become an overwhelming, Kafkaesque descent into the madness of a modern American town. Vic’s seemingly straightforward routine, as he speeds his van through Milwaukee’s narrow streets, becomes a vehicle for exploring the city’s complex immigrant communities, racial tensions, and working-class frustrations. It’s a lot to take in, but Mikhanovsky doesn’t hesitate to keep barreling forward, and it’s an impressive gamble even when it runs out of gas.”
“Give Me Liberty” stars Chris Galust, Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, and Maxim Stoyanov.
Music Box Films will release the movie in select cities on August 23, with a national theatrical rollout to follow. Check out the trailer, exclusively available on IndieWire, below.