×

The Freebie

An agreeable if sketchy look at a couple who give themselves a one-night pass to have sex with other people.

With:
With: Dax Shepard, Katie Aselton, Frankie Shaw, Ross Partridge, Sean Nelson, Bellamy Young.

A high-concept comedy with an ultra-low budget, “The Freebie” is an agreeable if sketchy look at a couple who give themselves a one-night pass to have sex with other people. “Puffy Chair” thesp Katie Aselton gets her feet wet as a writer-director but doesn’t leave the shallow end of the pool with this brightly turned-out do-it-yourselfer that possesses mild charm but will likely go further in alternative home-viewing formats than in theatrical release, which Phase 4 will undertake this summer after its Sundance pickup.

Exec produced by Aselton and hubby Mark Duplass and shot in 11 days in the couple’s Silver Lake district home in Los Angeles, the pic was largely improvised from Aselton’s six-page outline. A couple of around-the-table discussions among friends have a loose, spontaneous feel, but the key one-on-one scenes between the two leads are focused and on-point, short-circuiting the possibility of aimless indulgence.

Annie (Aselton) and Darren (Dax Shepard) are warm and intimate together, sharing feelings and snuggle sessions. But their physicality is distinctly cuddly rather than lustful and they can’t remember the last time they had sex. One of the film’s emotional and psychological limitations is that the characters never delve into the possible reasons for the erosion of the erotic: Do they infantilize each other? Does he have performance issues? Was she not getting much out of it?

Not only does the dialogue detour around the nitty-gritty, it provide no substantial information about the twosome as individuals. They seem like nice young folks and all, but they appear to have plenty of time to kill, and there aren’t even token mentions of what they do for a living, what they’re interested in, their backgrounds or previous relationships, or anything that would give them dimension.

As a result, the film’s focus remains incredibly narrow. More than halfway through the brief running time, Annie and Darren embark upon their evenings apart, she to a local hangout with a very willing bartender, he to an assignation with a girl in the neighborhood. We see the beginnings of the separate dalliances, notably a hot encounter Annie allows to happen in the bar’s bathroom, but don’t know for sure how far they go.

Unsurprisingly, the morning-aftermath is not as insignificant or guilt-and-suspicion-free as the more theoretical advance discussions had been. Some pain, resentment and deeper feelings come through in the final stages, although the film still wants for more incisiveness and a sense of full experience.

From a performance p.o.v., Aselton and Shepard hold the screen well and are most watchable, and Aselton does a fluid directing job within the limited challenge she set for herself production-wise. Benjamin Kasulke’s HD lensing is bright and sharp, while Nat Sanders’ editing is very crisp.

The Freebie

Production: A Phase 4 Films release of a Freebie presentation. Produced by Adele Romanski. Executive producers, Mark Duplass, Katie Aselton. Directed, written by Katie Aselton.

Crew: Camera (color), Benjamin Kasulke; editor, Nat Sanders; music, Julian Wass; music supervisor, Margueritte Phillips; production designers, Jessica Anisman, Phillips; sound, Sean O'Malley; re-recording mixer, Gene Park; second unit camera, Jas Shelton. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Next), Jan. 27, 2010. Running time: 78 MIN.

With: With: Dax Shepard, Katie Aselton, Frankie Shaw, Ross Partridge, Sean Nelson, Bellamy Young.

More Film

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Oscars: 31 Upcoming Films That Could Enter the Awards Race

    The year reaches the halfway mark on June 30, and traditionally films from the first six months have an uphill battle in the Oscar race. However, this year’s January-June crop might get a boost from the accelerated schedule: Nominations voting is a tight Jan. 2-Jan. 7, 2020. So if voters start their homework now, early [...]

  • Yesterday Movie Danny Boyle

    Danny Boyle on 'Yesterday,' Leaving 'Bond 25' and Why the Beatles Still Rock

    Danny Boyle would like to reintroduce you to the Beatles. The iconic foursome certainly needs no introduction, but in his movie “Yesterday,” which debuts June 28, the director envisions a word where nobody has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That is, nobody besides Jack Malik. When the struggling songwriter, portrayed by newcomer Himesh [...]

  • Svensk Filmindustri SF Studios logo

    Warner Bros, SF Studios Expand Distribution Deal Across Scandinavia

    Warner Bros. Pictures has expanded its distribution deal with SF Studios to include Sweden and have their movies released by the Nordic major through all of Scandinavia. Warner Bros. Pictures already has a distribution pact with SF Studios in Denmark, Norway and Finland. Under the partnership, SF Studios has been handling the sales, marketing and [...]

  • Nicole Kidman Meryl Streep

    Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman to Star in Ryan Murphy's 'The Prom' at Netflix

    Ryan Murphy enlisted a star-studded cast for his upcoming Netflix movie “The Prom,” an adaptation of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Awkwafina, James Corden, Ariana Grande, Keegan-Michael Key and Andrew Rannells are among the A-listers bringing “The Prom” to screens. “The Prom” follows a lesbian student in the fictional conservative town of [...]

  • Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova Join Vaclav

    Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova Join Václav Havel Biopic

    Viktor Dvorak has been cast in “Havel,” a biopic of Václav Havel, as the Czech playwright, dissident and national leader. Anna Geislerova, who starred in Oscar nominated “Zelary,” plays his wife, Olga Havlova. Jiri Bartoska, the president of Karlovy Vary Film Festival, will appear in the film as “Professor,” inspired by Czech philosopher Jan Patocka. [...]

  • Daniel Craig

    'Bond 25' First Footage Sees Daniel Craig Back as 007

    After suffering a series of setbacks, including finding a new director and Daniel Craig’s on-set injury, “Bond 25” production is officially underway. A new behind-the-scenes clip of the upcoming James Bond film features Craig and helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga at work in the Caribbean. The minute-long footage didn’t reveal much about the still-untitled movie, though [...]

  • (L to R) Marco Graf as

    ‘Roma,’ ‘The Good Girls’ Top Mexico’s Ariel Academy Awards

    The Mexican Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences hosted the 61st edition of their Ariel Awards on Monday evening, where Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” and Alejandra Márquez Abella’s “The Good Girls” stood out among the winners. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Cuarón’s “Roma” scooping best picture is that it’s only the second of his films to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content