Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole Ashland
Markus Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Rated R for language and sexual content.
For the first 20 minutes, “The Freebie” is insanely boring, but stick with it, because after that the movie is elevated to one of the most intriguing relationship movies of the year. First time director Katie Aselton teams up with Dax Shepard (Let’s Go to Prison) to star in this ambitious film about a married couple, who have hit a rut in their love life and come up with a plan to give each other a free pass to sleep with someone else for one night. The premise may seem super fictional (why would any couple make an agreement like this?), but this conceptual experiment in human interaction is really quite interesting to watch play out. “The Freebie” is a movie that no matter how aware you are of what’s coming next, you still won’t be able to look away.
The chemistry between Shepard and Aselton is so authentic and believable, that it gives the audience an intense sense of connection to these characters. And that is saying something, that I would give any semblance of praise to the work of Dax Shepard, who is usually the most annoying person in any film.
The direction by Aselton is also something to take note of. The fact that the storyline was played out in a non-linear format was a stroke of genius with this type of film. Jumping back and forth from the night of the proposition, to the aftermath and then back to the night where the couples are supposed to sleep with somebody else, makes the movie move with such a pace that allows the audience to truly feel the stress and pain of what the couple onscreen is going through. It is quite clear that Aselton’s command of the storyline is a huge part of why this film works.
The only issue anyone would have with “The Freebie” would be, that because Aselton comes from the school of the Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair, Baghead), this film is mostly improvisation. All of the obviously improvised scenes may be too much of an Indie stretch for many audiences to make. It is my hope that people will give this film a chance even though this is not your usual “romantic melodrama”.
Final Thought: The entire situation of a freebie may be only confirming what many couples already knew, but taking the whole movie into consideration, “The Freebie” is a fresh and very interesting take on the “relationship” film. And hey, it is only 74 minutes long, so if you don’t like the film, take a quick nap and it will be over soon.