Peter Cousens directs a very strong and compelling Freedom in which award-winning Cuba Gooding Jr plays the ill-at-ease and guarded character of Samuel Woodward.
A raw and engaging drama, the audience is launched right into the thick of the plight of the desperate slaves of the year 1856. ‘Freedom’ aims to take you on a journey that creates an awareness for the horrific existence of a modern day slave market. To this end, the whole film is brushed with an element of truth and harsh reality that had an almost charismatic effect on me.
The film, unfolding at a good pace, links Samuel Woodwards story to that of historical figure John Newton, captain of an American slave trader and composer of the famous ‘Amazing Grace’. Told over a period of one hundred years and by Samuels great grandfather who was on board captain Newtons ship, the two men are both involved in their own parallel struggles for freedom. Although this adds to the depth and sentimental value of the story as a whole, this link at times did not seem to flow as well as it could have for me. Nevertheless, Cuba Gooding, Jr and his co-stars definitely do the story line justice by capturing the tough and tender human element involved in their all too real struggle for freedom.
Tense, somber and strangely heartwarming in the most unlikely places, ‘Freedom’ will have you swept up in the predicament of the characters as you go from nervous nail-biting to tears to warm laughter.
In the end, the two stories thankfully marry up beautifully. This gives a sense of closure and heart that made this enlightening and entertaining film even more special. Delivering a heartwarmingly human eruption amidst the ominous presence of Samuel Woodwards pursuers, the conclusion had me captured all the way to the end credits.
Freedom will be able to capture a wide variety of audiences. In a bid to create social awareness, this riveting drama has definitely become a must-see for those looking to have their heartstrings pulled.
An overall awakening and endearing historical film boasting beautiful photography and an excellent cast.
Reviewed by Telea Juventin