After the death of their father, two brothers discover that he was connected to a legendary and iconic artist named Hetty Entwistle. Putting their differences aside, the brothers come together with a documentary film crew to track down Hetty’s lost masterpiece in The Freedoms.
The last film of Mark Garvey’s that we reviewed here on Screen Critix was the gorgeous-looking ‘Twas The Devil’. Set in the middle ages ‘Twas The Devil’ was an enjoyable choose your own adventure style film that had plenty of cinematic flair. This time, with The Freedoms, Garvey has sent us a completely different animal, a comedy mockumentary about the search for a missing piece of art.
We received very little information about The Freedoms and it arrived cleverly disguised as a straight documentary. However, it’s not long into the film before we realise that it is actually a fictional comedy. We are introduced to Callum and Simon – two brothers who have recently lost their dad. Callum, the black sheep of the family who is always partying, was irresponsible and could never really hold down a job. In contrast, his brother Simon is responsible, smart, married and a well-respected teacher.
While clearing through their father’s possessions, they come across a piece of information connecting him to a lady they don’t recognise called Hetty Entwistle. As they look deeper into Hetty’s past they discover she was a world-famous artist who was also an activist, an explorer, and a recluse. We meet some of the people who were involved with Hetty, discovering that she also began her own spiritual teachings and endeavors, helping her gather a worldwide following. Thanks to her work and influence, we humorously discover Hetty was basically responsible for every major artistic venture and cultural milieu since the late ’70s. We are also told that Hetty has an incomplete masterpiece hidden somewhere known as The Freedoms.
The opening scenes are filmed like any other documentary, in the usual talking heads style, with Callum and Simon being interviewed about their childhoods as the camera cuts between family photographs, achievements, and newsreel footage. Then, as more people are interviewed, we are taken to different interiors and backgrounds. It is only when we are introduced to Kitty Von Abrams, a follower of Hetty Entwistle’s teachings, that the film really clicks into life.
It becomes clear early on from Kitty that Hetty’s missing masterpiece is not in fact a piece of art, but rather a group of torturous, psychological, and physical tasks that must all be completed ‘to the letter’ as Hetty intended. So, with a documentary crew in tow including director Mark Garvey playing a very funny version of himself, we follow the brothers on their journey of self-discovery as they search for the secret of Hetty Entwistle’s The Freedoms and what connection she has with their dearly departed dad.
The film then consists of different sketches and improvised scenes surrounding each ‘Freedom’ that leads to some very funny results, especially during the unscripted moments; when the general public sometimes wanders aimlessly into the shot, the addition of a clever improvisation line, or when unintentional accidents happen. There is an enjoyable sense of anarchy to some of the set pieces and the relationship between the brothers is reminiscent of Flight Of The Conchords. The film also manages to move us in moments and even surprise us at the end.
As the cold nights begin to take hold, you could do a lot worse than snuggle up to this warm hug of a mockumentary. With two very likable leads, some smart improvisation, and a lot of clever direction (as well as misdirection), there is plenty here to get your teeth into. As we come out of our own lockdowns, now is the perfect time to experience your Freedoms and, much like this film, you will be left with a big daft grin on your face.