What if Sarah Palin were secretly a lesbian?
That idea is essentially the crux of Liberty’s Secret, a lighthearted movie-musical that follows a conservative Republican candidate’s harebrained election campaign. During the campaign, one of the candidate’s advisors, Nikki (Cara AnnMarie), falls for the all-American, squeaky-clean campaign spokeswoman, Liberty (Jaclene Wilk). Conservative outrage and lesbian hijinks ensue.
A Catchy, Creative Soundtrack
The highlight of the movie is definitely the musical numbers, which range from jazz to Latin ballroom to light classical. The witty songs had me laughing so hard I whistled – “Girls Like Boys” is a three-minute failed ode to gender norms that include claims like “Girls like picking roses, and boys like punching noses.”
The more heartfelt songs made my eyes prickle with tears. The operatic I Dare Not Speak Your Name is worth a listen even if you don’t watch the movie.
Most Lovable Character Award Goes to…
My personal favorite character was the presidential candidate, a lovable George Bush caricature who trips over himself whenever he tries to express an original opinion. At a time when the real-life President-elect is a horrifying, racist, fascist Republican, it feels cathartic to have a well-meaning Republican candidate to laugh at instead of fear.
Room for Improvement (Spoilers)
Granted, the film is far from perfect. While Liberty’s character was spectacular, Nikki felt wooden, and I didn’t believe that they were in love. When Nikki told Liberty that she loved her, I rolled my eyes because it felt forced.
It would also have been nice to see Liberty wrestle with her sexuality more. She was raised in a sheltered, fundamentalist Christian home, yet she accepts her sexuality in stride. She leaps headfirst into a relationship with Nikki after a four-minute stay at a Christian reparative therapy facility.
Yet Another Sassy Black Stereotype
The handling of the character Yolanda was also less than stellar. While she got a (very flimsy) romantic subplot with Liberty’s father, she seemed to exist solely to give advice and ensure that the privileged white characters lived happily ever after. The Magical Negro is alive and well. Still, it was refreshing to see POC representation in a Republican environment.
Despite its flaws, Liberty’s Secret is a funny and satirical romp through American politics. The soundtrack alone makes it more than worthwhile, and you’ll fall in love with Jaclene Wilk.
Some of the most hilarious lines:
- When being coached on how to answer questions like a politician, Liberty says, “Don’t say ‘global warming.’ Say, ‘This too shall pass.'”
- In a church, parishioners sing about God’s forgiveness. “Rub, dub, dub, bubble and scrub! My blackened soul is white!”
- Liberty says, “You don’t even know what real love is. It’s about sacrifice. It’s about doing things for others. Doing the right thing even if it’s not the thing you want. Giving up your own life for someone else’s. That’s real love.” Nikki shoots back, “No, that’s codependency. There’s a big difference.”
Liberty’s Secret is a funny, very gay movie that I will be returning to again and again, if only for the soundtrack. I highly recommend it!
Official summary: Liberty Smith is the perfect, all-American girl: preacher’s daughter, straight-A student, and aspiring Christian Pop singer. So when a struggling presidential campaign needs a bridge to Rust-Belt evangelicals, they believe they’ve found their poster child! But when ingénue Liberty meets Washington insider, Nikki Levine, the campaign takes a tailspin — and so does Liberty. Smart, sexy, and sophisticated, Nikki is everything Liberty has ever dreamed of. Can their love song bring the country together, or will fear and politics drive them apart?