Film Review: Free Samples

Bad vibes preside in a comedy set in a dumpy parking lot.

A showcase for up-and-comer Jess Weixler, Free Samples lets the sweet-faced actress play sour, bouncing off a score of co-stars while her character endures heat and hangover in a desolate parking lot. Jay Gamill's feature debut may get some commercial play from supporting players Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Ritter, but with neither onscreen for long, relies entirely on Weixler's ability to win viewers over.

Weixler plays Jillian, a law student who has taken a semester off from both Stanford and her fiancé Danny—intending to pursue something artistic but spending most of her time drinking and sleeping around. Awakening at her friend Nancy's house after a blackout drunk, she's coerced to repay the hospitality by filling in for Nancy at work: spending the long day alone in a beat-up food truck, giving free ice cream to anyone wandering this forsaken neighborhood.

Most of those encounters are snarky, one-joke interactions, but a loose arc finds Jillian starting to see the need to escape her rut. Ritter and Eisenberg notwithstanding, the real highlight in the supporting cast is Tippi Hedren, playing a long-retired actress who refuses to be seen by old colleagues now that her looks have gone. (Never mind that Hedren's a beauty even in her 80s.) Hedren's poignant recollections of love and regret lend some weight to Jillian's petty grousing, setting the stage for an encounter that brings this very bad day to a head.
The Hollywood Reporter