However, there are a few things about this film that are for certain. For starters, it is (in my opinion delightfully) weird, oozing with absurd humour, surrealistic imagery, and an ever increasingly uncomfortable atmosphere. The editing and camerawork go hand in hand to make this a visually fascinating and impressive work. The psychological depths explored in the film are perfectly portrayed thanks to director Josephine Decker's incredible vision and talent for realizing said vision. Equally impressive is the acting. Miranda July is surprisingly intimidating and unsurprisingly awkward and Molly Parker is able to juggle likability with a strange undercurrent of suspicion on the part of the viewer extremely well. However, the real highlight of the film's performances comes from Madeline herself, played by newcomer Helena Howard. If the visionary visuals, editing, and score aren't enough to convince you to watch this film, her performance should. There is a particular sequence towards the end that was legitimately breathtaking due to her emotive and powerful performance. In many ways, it is an extremely pronounced performance, and in many other ways it is extremely subtle. To see such a young actor display so much incredible talent makes me excited to see her future career, and makes this film all the better.
The film's escalation into further absurdity is one of its finest attributes. Watching everything crumble into a great ball of bizarre comedy helps even further cement this film's status as a feast for the eyes and mind. Towards the end, many of the action sequences are so bafflingly insane that they become ridiculously fun. When I can't tell what exactly is even going on, I get all the more intrigued.
While it is not a perfect film, or any sort of "masterpiece" at all (there are a lot of weird audio decisions William Klein made, much of the dialogue is obviously dubbed and it is very distracting) , 'Mr. Freedom' is certainly a worthwhile experience for almost anyone looking for a good satire. It's as entertaining and absurd as a film of this kind ought to be.
Particularly successful in this short are its characters. Not only is the central character of Antoine Doniel as fascinating as ever, but so are those around him. Colette and even Colette's parents are likable and charming people and seeing them all get into this simple-yet-complicated situation is really engaging. Both Antoine and Colette are sympathetic, and both of their sides of the story are simultaneously understandable and (at times) somewhat pathetic. Truffaut gives us plenty of moments over the course of the film's half hour runtime to cringe at Antoine's awkward obsession with this girl, and, especially towards the end, the girl's own flaws come more into light, making for a compelling, yet extremely mild, central conflict.
Much of the overall impact of the film is due to the psychedelic and stylistic editing choices, making it somewhat comparable to 'Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!' in this regard, though it is, obviously, much much darker. However, it is still rather funny throughout. There's an underlying humour in almost every one of the thirty "triggers" that make up this film, whether the comedy be pitch black or flat out absurd (feeding a cat cheerios and calling it "kitty candy", sudden references to celebrities that trigger images of said celebrities to pop on the screen that are noticeably edited in a comically weird fashion, etc.) it is always present, whether it be above or below the tonal surface.
In 'Shaye Saint John: The Triggers Compilation', there is also always horror where there is humour. Many people are only aware of this film solely because some of the Shaye Saint John videos went viral online due to their creepiness. While much of the creepiness may derive from the uncanny valley effect derived from the central character's design, most of what I found genuinely unsettling dealt with some of the underlying themes of sexual abuse and obsession, and how these themes are so unusually and chaotically presented. There also seems to be some undercurrent of child abuse running through many of the scenes, as well as a more obvious satirical commentary on fame and desperation for stardom. The film certainly isn't some insightful masterpiece due to the presence of these themes, but they do certainly add a lot to its overall impact and power.
Most people would probably be unable to actually finish this ninety minute collection of surreal, abstract, and experimental "sketches"; this is inaccessibility at its most inaccessible (as far as films with actual scenes and things happening in them go anyway (this may seem like a weird thing to add for those who aren't particularly well versed in the existence of some non narrative slow cinema)), and yet there is entertainment value for those who can appreciate its shocking, disturbing, trashy, and oddly artful underground nature.
The Good: The animation is quite lovely, and the general visual ideas presented are quite appealing. There are some very interesting concepts and moments buried within the loose story this short has going for it, and is even, in the end, somewhat powerful to whatever extent. I mean, the final lines of dialogue are halfway between a pro or con in the context of this short. They are super cheesy and eye rolling and unneeded, a more artful, less "mainstream" work would certainly not include such an obvious explanation of the message at the end, but, on a purely emotional level, part of these final lines did sort of touch me.
The Bad: Aspects of the video do feel like something a self deprecating self described weeaboo teenager would call deep and cry about, and since it's so easy for me to just create an entire stereotype out of thin air because of these aspects, I'm sure they must take away some Good Anime Points from the general presentation. The music the music video goes to is overly upbeat for the video itself I thought. There were elements to the electronic soundscape created that I found very sonically pleasing, but, generally, it was kind of a lame, generic song that some hipster would blast at a night club he goes to white knight ugly feminist women for a few hours a week that a bunch of cool, epic younger people would raise their red plastic cups full of Underaged Drinking Juice in the air to. This is not a compliment. The lyrics are also kind of really bad and generic. Yeah.
Overall, the video is okay go watch it if you want.
Unfortunately, the quality of the actual content itself is not at all on par with the animation and technical qualities. There is atmosphere, the sound design and music both work brilliantly together to contribute to the fantastic creation of this entire animated world, and there are various moments of genuine power and bittersweetness. However, there are so many moments in which all I care about is the visuals, and there are even moments in which I've just zoned out entirely and don't care about much of anything anymore. It isn't bad or a total failure, but much of the film does feel like wasted potential, unfortunately. Even the structure, I feel, is well done, and the events that occur themselves could be depicted in a much more engaging and powerful way. Really, the main issue here must be the writing and the lack of genuinely compelling central characters. The two lovers at the core of this film are shown to not really have very interesting personalities, honestly, they are just kind of there. Being just kind of there doesn't make for engaging cinema, even if there are, as I said, a few moments of genuine power. There are many bright spots, and technically it is a masterpiece, but the plague of tediousness haunting some of this film drags it down a bit. Also, the music-video thing at the end or whatever it was...that was awful. I'm disappointed it ended like that.