The Freebie

I found out Katie Aselton was directing films when I read about her most recent film called Black Rock. She’s the wife of one of my favorite directors Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair, Baghead). I couldn’t see Black Rock yet, so I saw that her directorial debut The Freebie was avaiable on Netflix so I watched that. I saw the movie poster for it and was underwhelmed. It seemed to be branded as a quirky sex comedy, but I was really hoping it wasn’t. And I am pleased to say it blew my expectations out of the water.

So if you really want to watch a lighthearted romantic comedy, don’t watch this.

The Freebie is about a young husband and wife that have lost the spark in the sack. One night they decide that it would be a good idea to experiment with sleeping with other people for one night. Now, I recently heard a This American Life episode about the crazy things people do for love and the whole “let’s try sleeping with other people” experiment was one of the examples. And as you might expect, it didn’t work out in the end, the couple was worse off for it. I feel like if you’re in a position where that experiment actually becomes an option with your spouse, you’re probably not doing so good and one or both of you is looking for a way out. Something to break up over. It’s really sad actually and I am thankful that Kim and I both firmly stand against this idea.

But I’m not opposed to watching a film about a couple trying it out. I was really curious how Katie Aselton was going to pull it off in her film. Honestly, she did wonderfully. I went into it with mixed expectations. The poster/branding made me feel bleh, but if she has the same sort of taste in movie making as her husband Mark Duplass, then I was hoping for a gem. And fortunately, we get a diamond. (Cheesy, I know, but it’s true).

The movie has all the cinema verite goodness you’d come to expect from a Duplass film (Mark Duplass produced it by the way). It feels so natural. The acting is superb and the way she handles “the idea”, “the execution”, and “the aftermath” is so tastefully done I’m just blown away. She didn’t let it turn into a stupid romcom and she was aware enough to address the fact that this was a terrible idea. I’m glad she didn’t somehow find a way to make light of the situation because that’s what mainstream films typically want to do. The truth is we don’t really find out if it “works” because relationships and marriages can’t solve their problems in 90 minutes of cinema. You get the impression that the aftermath and the issue still exists for this couple after the end of the film and that’s how it really is. I appreciate that.

I’m so happy with The Freebie. I can’t wait to watch it again, this time with Kim. I think she’ll “enjoy” it like I did. It definitely affected me.

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