Welcome to the Millennial slacker subgenre, Free Samples. The film follows Jess Weixler‘s Jillian who is newly out of Stanford Law School, having dropped out to pursue a career in the Los Angeles arts scene despite lacking any sort of talent. While there are two brief scenes that bookend the film, the majority takes place while she’s serving one hellish day working in an ice cream truck.
The ice cream truck serves more as a location for a series of vignettes about her encounters with customers than a true narrative experience. However, each one serves to highlight a little bit more about Jillian. She’s like an onion and these customers slowly peel back layers allowing the viewers to understand her. Surly, mean, and hungover, Jillan is far from likable and solely to blame for getting herself in to this mess. She dropped out of Stanford Law, insisted on a trial separation from her fiance, and has spent the past few months just drifting between art mediums in hopes of somehow miraculously discovering she has a hidden talent. However, it’s through a few key scenes with an former Hollywood beauty that we finally see her open up, become vulnerable, and therefore likable.
The film opens and closes with scenes between Jillian and Albert (Jesse Eisenberg), providing a nice arch for this character. She goes through hell in that ice cream truck – crazy homeless ladies, ungrateful kids, and basically her whole life blows up thanks to a surprise visitor. It’s never more apparent of how much she’s changed from this one day when looking at the two bookended scenes. Jess Weixler is fantastic as Jillian, remaining surly throughout, but showing nuanced levels of within that. Eisenberg brings out his everyman charm to great effect here as well.
Free Samples is a great palate cleanser to those big budget summer blockbusters. It’s proof that you can find a good story in the smallest of places, in a slice of life that many could easily overlook.
Free Samples will be available on VOD on May 21 and in select theaters on May 31.