Unfreedom (2015)

Raj Amit's UNFREEDOM tells the dual stories of religious fundamentalists kidnapping a scholar for execution in New York while at the same time a lesbian in India decides to skip out on her upcoming marriage and flee into the arms of her lover.

Banned in India,  the film has become the center of a firestorm on questions of censorship. Having seen the film I'm not really surprised that the film has been banned, though some of what I've read has said they are more upset with the portrayal of the religious fanaticism rather than the nudity and the gang rape of young women by men including police officials.

I'm really not sure what to say about the film. While I reached out to the PR people connected to the film to be sure I could see it knowing its an important film for what it is trying to do, now that I've seen it I'm very mixed on the film that resulted.

In many ways more two thematically related short films rather than a unified whole the film. The films, while fine on there own terms, are lessened in many ways, though mainly because the film very much has a chip on its shoulder. Its clear that Raj Amit wants not so much to tell his story as get his point of view across.  The two stories being told are very much calls for tolerance and understanding and a damning indictment of religious intolerance, something the film never lets you forget. Everything is ordered to make a point - and it does that in spades- to the point I stopped caring.

Yes, the film is shocking, the violence, in particular the rapes that conclude the film, are nasty pieces of work, both in what they show but also in the matter of fact nature with which they are carried out. I'm not going to argue that it's too much, there are too many stories about gang rapes coming out of India however I am questioning whether the violence is there because it needs to be there or because it's just an exclamation point  on Amit's damning indictment.  I don't know if we are being poked in the eye because it's necessary or because its the only way to make us look.

I suppose the question wouldn't come up if the dramas were more compelling. While not bad, the stories are in many ways variations on tales that we've seen before in films and American TV shows.

Don't get me wrong the film isn't bad, but it just isn't quite good enough to stand without being propped up by needing to use the "Banned in India" line as the first thing in the PR material.

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