The Free World
Directed by Jason Lew
Following his release from a brutal stretch in prison for crimes he didn't commit, Mo is struggling to adapt to life on the outside. When his world collides with Doris, a mysterious woman with a violent past, he decides to risk his newfound freedom to keep her in his life.
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★★★½ review by Dawson Joyce on Letterboxd
It often slips on the ice of melodrama, but The Free World makes for an engaging and beautifully shot directorial debut from Restless writer Jason Lew featuring two spectacular lead performances from Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss.
★★★½ review by ✨ Felisha ✨ on Letterboxd
This was quiet and at times a little cliché but over all well made film. I'm a sucker for independent movies with broken characters and small moments though so take that as you will. Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss were perfectly cast in their meek and sometime desperate roles.
★★★½ review by Barbara on Letterboxd
That ending tho!! I really liked this, Elizabeth is really really good. And I'm sorry but I would watch anything with Boyd, he is just so fine! Even with the red hair
★★★½ review by Raph Lumbroso on Letterboxd
"I think of you. I think of you"
The Free World is a film about doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
Contained, brutal and confident; the story starts off by revealing very little, and by the end we still don't really know where we stand.
Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss play opposite each other as Mohamed and Doris, two people with few choices and a hell of a lot to be afraid of.
Both give excellent performances in roles that call for endless intensity and an understanding of movement and space in a small number of locations; there were moments early on before things shift where I thought how this might work as a play set entirely in Mohamed's apartment.
The duo's animalistic physicality and wounded gazes make it hard to look away, and hard to watch.
It's difficult to talk about the film in any real depth without giving it away but I can definitely say its a piece that is so precise in tone and intention that it's hard not to appreciate, even if the first half feels a lot better and more original than the second.
The omission of any depiction of violence against women despite the fact of it being a major plot point - whether purposeful or happenstance - made for a better film that seems to realise what's important for an audience to see versus intuit.
Aside from the focus on character that makes it so riveting to watch, the film's cinematography and hazy, minimal score are both remarkable and make it worthy of a host of comparisons including the films of Shane Carruth and Kelly Reichardt.
My overwhelming feeling having got to the end of The Free World was uncertainty, I'm not sure that I've fully processed it and whether I'll need to go back and evaluate it more thoroughly.
But god did it make an impression.
★★★½ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd
Mo is a tough ex-con, released from a falsely convicted prison stretch, who now works in a dog shelter, determined to stay on the straight and narrow. He is played by Boyd Holbrook, a good looking actor that somehow has never before made much of an impact in several of his films and TV shows that I've watched (lately in Narcos)..but here gives an indelibly deep performance. When Mo encounters a needy girl on the run from murdering her abusive cop husband (Elizabeth Moss, great in a role that is something of a departure for her), the two outcasts embark on a desperate road trip to freedom. The film engrossed me despite some inexplicable plot developments. The magnetism of the two leads and the propulsive story of their jeopardy was that strong.
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