(aka 'The Free Will' or 'Der Freie Wille')
Winner of a prestigious Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival Matthias Glasner's brave and complex drama contemplates the terror of loneliness and whether love can be a salvation to damaged psyches.Earning Best Actor awards at both Tribeca and Chicago J rgen Vogel stars as Theo a convicted sexual predator who has just been released from psychiatric detention. His fear of women stirs a profound unfulfilled longing within him making his reintegration into society an unbearable ordeal. Can hope exist in his budding relationship with Nettie (Sabine Timoteo) as they embark on a journey to the limits of free will?
A demanding three-hour drama about a rapist trying to control his urges, this amazingly conceived and deeply upsetting exploration of damaged psyches asks a terrifying question: can an abusive sex addict love or be loved? Co-writer, co-producer and star Jurgen Vogel gives the bravest and most challenging performance I've seen so far this year, humanizing a stunted monster named Theo so that (gulp!) we actually care about him. After being released from a nine-year institutional sentence, Theo sincerely wants to climb up from rock bottom and become a model citizen. He works out, he works hard — and though the vicious stirring in his brain is "still on the safe side" as he confides in a friend — the guy lives his life like a recovering junkie: one day at a time. But temptation is everywhere, and after following a girl home, breaking into her house and coming just shy of despoiling her, he turns and runs. His only hope of escape is an uneasy relationship with his boss' high-strung daughter, Nettie (Sabine Timoteo, simply fantastic), who may have been maltreated herself. Glasner is a sly stylist, forcing viewers to see sex as violent and vulgar in one scene, then amorous and erotic later on. He values emotional authenticity, understands its miscommunications, and shoots with muted vibrancy for vraisemblance. While the work is intense to put it mildly, it's moreso because Glasner doesn't try to titillate for naught or stoop to the shocking sensationalism of a Gasper Noe type (on the contrary, I thought more of Bruno Dumont's Humanite). It's too soon to tell with another week of festin' to go, but thus far, The Free Will is my favorite film at Tribeca.
Theatrical Release: February 13th, 2006 - Berlin Film Festival
DVD Review: Benten Films - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Benten Films - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.31 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||German | French (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
by director/writer Matthias Glasner and star Jürgen Vogel (in German
with English subtitles)
notes with an essay from David Fear
Benten films seem like a good group of guys and we got a real charge out of their LOL release. There exposing some of the worthy avant garde and this site appreciates their efforts.
IMdb lists this as being shown theatrically at 1.66: but I can only tell you that this DVD is in 1.77 anamorphic ratio and the composition looks acceptable to my eye. The disc is dual-layered and interlaced. The time indicates that it may have been taken from an unconverted PAL source and this may explain the combing/ghosting which is quite prevalent (this is a guess o n my part). The film is shot with many hand-held, unsteady, camera shots and gives the impression of being from video stock although IMdb says it was shown in 35mm. Bottom line is that it looks very rough - whether intentional, its true Indie roots or just a weak transfer. Contrast and detail are at the shallow end of the pond while colors are dull with poor lighting - The Free Will looking quite dark at times. On the positive it doesn't appear to have any digital manipulation. This may be exactly how it looked (except the combing) theatrically and I have nothing to compare it to as this is my first viewing. Purchasers should expect the worst though.
The film has a similarly weak audio track - in German and some French with optional English subtitles (see font sample below). It was scattered at times but this again probably reflects pragmatic production methods.
There is a decent, off-the-cuff commentary from director-writer Glasner and star Vogel. It is appreciated and reveals some impetus behind the films' creation and Theo's characterization but generally it is not particularly scholarly - lending itself to being fairly laid back. The film is long and there are gaps - I don't suspect many to last through it all - especially given the fact non-German speakers will have to read the entire dialogue discussion.
The film itself pushed me through a wave of emotions including enjoying parts of it as well as disgust at others. It did keep my attention - never being able to put a finger on the direction of the unique narrative stylings which I could closely link to the Dumont's films I have seen (concurring with the review above) with a fair amount of contemplative moments. Don't get me wrong - this is decent cinema and I wish to support more efforts of this nature but I find the group enjoying it may be quite narrow - but it certainly deserves an audience. The price seems high but it will be dependant on how intrigued you are with the film itself. This is a true 'Festival' offering. In closing I'd like to emphasize not be be weary of the length or subject matter.
Commentary subtitle sample