Free Samples: Tribeca Review

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

Jay Gammill's movie, starring Jess Weixler and Jesse Eisenberg, focuses on a law student who takes a semester off from Stanford and her fiancé.

NEW YORK — A showcase for up-and-comer Jess Weixler, Free Samples lets the sweet-faced actress play sour, bouncing off a score of costars 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.

PHOTOS: Tribeca Film Festival 2012: THR's Red Carpet Interviews
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.
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival, Spotlight
Production Companies: Film Harvest, New Forum Films
Cast: Jess Weixler, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Halley Feiffer, Jocelin Donahue, Whitney Able, Tippi Hedren
Director: Jay Gammill
Screenwriter: Jim Beggarly
Producers: Eben Kostbar, Joseph McKelheer
Executive producers: Michael Potts, Nick Mystrom, Kevin Iwashina
Director of photography: Reed Morano
Production designer: Jeffery Givens
Music: Eric Elbogen
Costume designer: Alisha Silverstein
Editors: Franklin Peterson, Jay Gammill
Sales: Preferred Content
No rating, 80 minutes