Free the Nipple starts with with a rousing soundtrack providing background for the opening of credits overlayed on the visual of a group of caped women running frantically down urban streets. Their exposed breasts at the beginning of the movie are pixellated symbolizing the social and cultural censorship, the inequality of top freedom for men and not for women and the hypersexualized nude representations of women.
Right off the bat the docudrama expresses the motive behind the free the nipple movement. A contrast between the arrest of women running bare-chested through downtown streets and the acceptance of violent behavior (ex. mass killing of movie goers) is highlighted.
The stage for the drama is set when a young “starving” reporter With (Lena Esco) interviews Liv (Lola Kirke, currently starring in the Amazon Orignal Mozart In the Jungle) about the movement and is challenged to join the movement. With loses her job and when she is unable to sell the interview article she finds motivation to join Liv to help take the movement to the next “national” level. The rest of the movie documents the efforts of the two women and several others they recruit to break through and receive national media attention for their movement. There are conflicts among the leadership of the group, ups and downs of setting up a large protest in the nations capital. The movie chronicles the relationship between Liv and With as the movement develops.
There are some passing sexual undertones, which emerge from the relationship between With and Liv. The film culminates with a somewhat murky expression of the goals of the movement part sexual freedom, part body freedom, part top freedom. The leaders of the group share a message after its members complete a night of illegal activity promoting the movement their quest for top equality.
From a purely cinematic standpoint, the movie is a bit of a mixed bag in this reviewer’s opinion. While the acting is of a high quality especially for the lead characters, the cinematic feel of the movie is more small screen than large screen.
The end of the film seemed cobbled together, rushed and unfinished. It’s almost as if in real life they ran out of funds for the movie and had to make tough choices about how to end it.
However, that in no way takes away from the message or lessens its overall impact and quality. In fact, it makes it perfect to view gathered in a small group around a television in someone’s home. Whether you agree with the group’s approach to top freedom and equality or not, this is an engaging film. The movie challenges its viewers to think about the socially conditioned view of the female body and the way violence is glorified and bodies criminalized.
Currently available on Netflix for streaming I encourage readers to have some friends over for a free the nipple party to watch and discuss the movie and the implications of the movement.
See full cast and crew at IMDB