Aselton proves to be a shrewd observer of relationships, and she crafts a provocative tale of a fun-loving couple who have lost their way. This thoroughly indie movie is reminiscent of another similar indie comedy this year, "Breaking Upwards," in which a perfectly nice couple decide to "break up" to save themselves from a fate worse than complacency. In both cases, temptation gets in the way, mucking things up and causing friction that may have been bubbling under the surface but now bursts out in the open.
"The Freebie" is a wonderful showcase for its actors. Aselton and Shepard create instant chemistry; this couple feels real and their bond strong, despite a need for something, anything, else to lift them out of this rut. Audiences can identify with Aselton's Annie and her need to question where they are and where they might go. Shepard is a revelation for those who know this comic only from lighter roles like the insipid "Employee of the Month." Here he is given the chance to create a fully dimensional man, seemingly happy and unaware he may not be. The long analytical scenes that make up the film's first half are heavy with the familiar dialogue we associate with lived-in marriages, and both actors are up to the task of delivering these lines in believable, naturalistic fashion. The ultimate compliment to the film's talented writer-director-star is that she has created a film, shot in just 11 days, that feels completely improvised, without a false note in sight.
Genre: Drama. Written and directed by: Katie Aselton. Starring: Katie Aselton, Dax Shepard.