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For Liberty [Roan Bibby, USA, 2017]

Only in dreams?

The film opens with a dream sequence of our protagonist Jim peering through a telescope at a bikini-clad woman in sunglasses. He wakes up, showers and then peers through a bedroom door at a sleeping figure on the bed. This clandestine moment of voyeurism is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Pit, the cocksure boyfriend of Jim’s sibling Liberty. The two men do not appear to get off on the right foot, Liberty the main source of contention. As Pit arrogantly inquires how much Jim’s sister talks about him, Jim makes it quite clear that she is only his half-sister, “Y’know, different mum’s, different states?” he proffers drily.

It is at this point that the woman from the bedroom awakes. It is Liberty, Jim’s half-sister and also the subject of his oneiric fantasy at the film’s prologue, the animosity between the men (especially from Jim’s direction) becoming immediately clear. With his back turned, Jim rolls his eyes as he listens to the couple kiss in greeting. The tension in the room is awkward, to say the least, and as the day unfolds it seems that it is only about to heighten, as the extent of Jim and Liberty’s once estranged relationship quickly begins to unravel.

For Liberty is an exercise in brave scriptwriting, tackling the subject of incest head-on and taking cues from The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, UK/FRA/ITA, 2003), which is the most obvious source of inspiration. For Liberty will stay with you on the strength of its subject matter, if not for the production quality itself and would have benefited from sharper editing and more inventive art direction. This is a decent and audacious effort from Roan Bibby who displays the potential to develop an interesting authorial voice.

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