The title Nice Freedom (taken from the identify of a Berlin homosexual membership) is laced with grim irony. Put up-World Warfare II, whereas the Allies promised freedom from fascism in West Germany, homophobic legal guidelines — a few of which might not be repealed till the ’90s — meant oppression continued for a lot of homosexual males. This spectacular jail drama is a fictionalised account of actual tales that focuses on a type of males, who’s transferred direct from a focus camp to jail after the warfare, and sees many return journeys merely for being homosexual. Sebastian Meise’s uncompromising movie affords a bleak portrait of a shameful historical past, however finds hope within the humanity of its characters.
It opens in 1968, a time of immense political turmoil and progressive change, however nonetheless extremely regressive for homosexual males. After we first meet Hans (performed by Franz Rogowski, certainly one of Europe’s most constantly spectacular arthouse actors), it’s on some grainy black-and-white footage of two homosexual males assembly in a bathroom. The footage appears voyeuristic and unusually intimate — till we realise it’s getting used as proof towards Hans.
It’s uncommon to see a love story of types between two males performed so delicately or thoughtfully.
The precise particulars of Germany’s bigoted legal guidelines are by no means touched on in nice element, not less than till an end-credits title playing cards fills us in, however their impression and price are clear within the drama that performs out. Spanning a long time, with a shifting-sands construction, we watch as Hans makes frequent return visits to a number of prisons, his look (from ’60s moustache to scruffy ’70s hair) altering with the speedy motion of tradition in an outdoor world we nearly by no means see.
When Hans first meets Viktor (Georg Friedrich, additionally sensible), they’re naturally suspicious, sustaining a troublesome psychological armour between them. Viktor, who’s nominally straight, falls again on the homophobic slurs he is aware of. However over the course of a long time, they develop nearer, creating a stirring, shared resilience, with Meise detailing small, tender acts between the pair. Their friendship is uncommon, unconventional and (largely) platonic, however it’s uncommon to see a love story of types between two males performed so delicately or thoughtfully. Trapped in an unpleasant system, they appear grateful merely to have discovered one another.