Vibrant cameo performances by two of our most engaging young actors—Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Ritter—along with one film legend—Tippi Hedren—transform this modest comedy into something special. Hungover from a night of partying, Jillian (Jess Weixler), who’s just dropped out of college, reluctantly agrees to fill in for a friend at her job running a dilapidated ice cream truck. This is Los Angeles, so there are weirdos aplenty walking up to Jillian’s window, most of whom she chases off with withering (but funny) sarcasm. Making their feature debuts, director Jay Gammill and screenwriter Jim Beggarly wait too long to reveal the hurts that have made Jillian so brittle, yet Weixler subtly suggests that Jillian regrets her every word. She’s alluring, which is why two guys she met the night before, played by Eisenberg and Ritter, stop by to charm her silly. These are small roles, yet both actors make this a warmer, more grounded movie. Free Samples may ultimately be remembered for the lovely role Beggarly has written for Hedren, the iconic star of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. As an aging beauty who refuses to give up her independence despite encroaching dementia, Hedren gives a tough-minded yet achingly poignant performance.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 6, 2013