What a fine work that embodies the elements of counterculture and its repercussions.
These stand as the main elements of Freeland, a film devoted to a self-sufficient entrepreneur that is about to get struck down by the changing systems of legalization. Capitalism is the main enemy of Devi (Krisha Fairchild), who has embedded herself in a life of selling marijuana for the past three decades. And perhaps when challenging one’s old rules, it leads to catastrophe and violence.
It’s like a theme that Sam Peckinpah became hellbent on during his collection of works. The Wild Bunch can violently attest it was inevitable for the outlaw gunfighter era to come to an end as the government started hampering down on modernization and land encroachment. And throughout his various works, each one tackled how one memorable period had come to an end.
Rather than going exposition-heavy, directors Mario Furloni and Kate McLean lean into an intimate observation of the northern California setting. (For those wondering, California still has remote locations with isolated communities that practice libertarian policies, which Furloni and McLean noted from their earlier documentaries.) The forests, isolation of its residents, and idealist tactics all procure a sense of freedom (as the title states).
Devi stands entrenched on her policies even with the new (and automated) greenhouses quickly surrounding her and billboards advertising legalization. She has many hurdles coming her way, as she needs to acquire a permit, or the county will take her property. One of her workers becomes presumptuous in getting modernized ideas utilized, but she has no interest. Fairchild’s performance is exemplary, balancing the wisdom and ruthlessness aspects throughout the entire 80-minute story.
The nuanced music ramps up the tension as the film nears its climax, positioning it as a thriller. And one of the best scenes of the movie as Devi stands in a San Francisco expo is that she realizes the dominating influence of industrialization. Everything goes blurry, and she flees back to the remnants of her land before it will be taken from her.
What started the feature as a strong, spirited businesswoman ends with a person crushed by the weight of bureaucracy. It’s an enormous change, and Freeland understands almost every component of it.