6 June 2013 | christine-705-717153
She's a Stanford Law School dropout, ostensibly taking a year off to figure out why law school isn't motivating her, and she ends up sitting in an ice cream truck for a day, giving away free samples to cover for a friend who has to do an intervention for her brother. Sound familiar? I'm sorry to hear that. Free Samples is a look into the lonely, solitary journey each of us needs to take to find out what might be the calling to end all callings. It's also a humorous attempt to show that nerds are totally enticing, weirdos are human, and the elderly have stories worth slowing down to hear. Women should love this movie. It has it all. Thus begins my Free Samples Movie Review.
Jillian, our dropout, is played by Jess Weixler, whom you may recognize from the TV series The Good Wife. She is in three movies this year, and judging from her brilliant performance in Free Samples, she will be a household name before too long. She owns the screen, not in that Julia Roberts way, but rather in the way of a normal, good-looking person. Sarcasm drips from her lips like honey, providing perspective rather than destroying it. She lets her guard down just twice during the film; once when she is listening to the tales of a former movie star, and again at the end when she agrees to allow a man named Tex (played by Jessie Eisenberg, whom we all have grown to love and trust) to seduce her into giving him a chance. Both moments scream through the rest of her otherwise reserved performance, finally letting us see what is going on inside her shell.
There is a point in the movie when she is crying about a lover who has just dumped her, and she admits that the reason she is crying is because she cannot believe she wasted so much time on someone she didn't really care about — and certainly never loved. It was a relief to see her articulate on the screen the dirty secret many of us carry, a feeling that is so real to so many women. Settle, we tell ourselves. Be comfortable. Accept boredom. Bury the passion. Oh, the lives we can lead without fighting!
We never see the ice cream. I wanted to see the ice cream. I wanted to see more of the inside of the truck. I want to know more about what she might have become. I am clueless. And while I'm sure the ambiguous ending was all part of the point of the movie, I want to know there is more than just the hope she can end up with a good guy like Tex. (He really is a good guy, isn't he?) I want to know that she will find something to be passionate about, something that will motivate her to action. What will she do with her days after the reel ends?
The direction is great — there is none. Jay Gammill, who looks like he's ten, has a fresh approach to direction, and it works. Just point the camera at the day's events unfolding around a truck. Nice. You feel as if there is a chair from KMart set up in front of the truck and you are sitting there with popcorn in your lap, watching a young woman crankily giving out samples of bad ice cream and the lessons she and those sampling learn along the way. Fabulous.