Here’s a sentence even the most daring of cinephiles don’t often come across in official marketing materials: “What begins as an evening of strategizing on the proliferation of libertinage, descends into a Sadean night of pansexual one-upmanship.” And yet who else but filmmaker Albert Serra could craft a film that doesn’t just tease such a premise, but actually delivers on it.
The Catalan director’s latest film debuted at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it picked up a special jury prize in the Un Certain Regard section. In the months that followed, the film went on to play both TIFF and NYFF. Dripping with all the period details one would expect from the man who made “The Death of Louis XIV,” Serra’s film follows a group of expelled libertines, tossed out of Louis XVI’s court and meant to find their own way, who spend a particularly eye-popping night in the German woods while on their ostensible quest for true freedom.
Like much of Serra’s oeuvre, it’s not a film for the faint of heart, but it’s rich in craftsmanship and refined in its devious depiction of some of its biggest ideas, including nothing less than an investigation and expression of what it means to be free.
In advance of its screenings at last year’s New York Film Festival, IndieWire’s own Eric Kohn wrote of it: “‘Liberté’ aims to shock and disturb viewers with a blend of graphic sex and S&M antics to spare, and practically invites some subset of its audience to walk out. However, while ‘Liberté’ is at times pornographic, it’s not exactly porn: The movie is a visual investigation into the roots of sexual liberation in societies steeped in repression. At the same time, it’s an outrageous satire of aristocracy that reworks antiquated imagery into something altogether more vulgar and immediate.”
Cinema Guild will release the film via virtual cinema on May 1, including “bookings” at New York City’s own Film at Lincoln Center. Find out more about how to purchase tickets to support both the film and the theaters showing it right here. For now, check out the newest trailer for “Liberté,” available exclusively on IndieWire, below.