DIRECTED BY BRAD SILBERLING
STARRING: PAZ VEGA, MORGAN FREEMAN
Now, this is the first time I’m beginning a review when halfway through '10 items or less' although technically the film was done by the time I entered the first word. Scarlet (Paz Vega) is at the wheel while the unnamed actor (Morgan Freeman) puts up an awed expression on his face that’s oddly not of the acting package. It’s not the subtlest of scenes that speaks more than what it is, but rather one of those frivolous pieces that only is what it shows to be. Camera’s from behind, I got to see a side of the actor’s face while my greed demanded more of the lady than the peeks offered by the rear-view mirror, but I knew that I got more than I can ask for, for this woman was more or less a replica of another Spanish heartthrob by the name of Penelope Cruz, and while the latter held in her midst no performance whole sole purpose was to infect joy, her less vulgar peer (I deliberately avoid ‘more decent’) had me hooked by a sufficiently genuine down-to-earth performance, with the glam element restricted to the low-cut top she wore.
What of the other then, the ‘phenomenal’ performer, both in real and as suggested (or introduced) in the film? Well, for one I knew that I shouldn’t make too much of a fuss about him, for acting the role out as it should be has long been a ‘duty’ more than a ‘skill’ and he’s only been living up to that save for a couple of exceptions (‘Gone Baby Gone’, for one) where he tends to get to be too much of himself. But surprisingly, he has more to do than assist Miss Scarlet, for he is who gives her perspective, the actor showing the real person how she should have been carrying herself, a sort of highlight of underplay when there definitely are more rewards to be reaped. It is not like Scarlet hasn’t been living up to her potential, it is that she doesn’t know of it and that is where the actor comes along, helping mechanize the lifestyle she had led so far, showing through illustration that she deserves more. What is about to happen is pre-disclosed a good way ahead of it, and that gets to define the way you’re to look at the film from then: Precisely the sing-along that I previously spoke about.
The film isn’t dialectic, one way I sought to differentiate it from the delightful ‘Before Sunrise’ and its sweetly masochistic sequel ‘Before Sunset’. The emotions are acted out and not spoken out, Paz Vega conveys her exasperation through intermittent heaves and puffs and has a constant frown, Morgan Freeman is ever-smiling, laid-back, and I know I should never touch the aspect of credibility, for I knew from moment one that these are impeccable performers in a film that more or less centres around the roles sanctioned, with more scope for Freeman considering he’s acts as one who acts. There is none but good humour and healthy comedy all the way, an assisting soundtrack that’s pretty okay and the joyride that consists more of straight-hit and feel-good rather than a higher level of intelligence (which in turn is what is expected, considering that these are real characters and not fictionalized representatives) numbs down considerably to the other side of the spectrum in the finale. You are told they would never meet again.
I watched it on TV, one reason why I had soft emotions punctuated by loud adverts but still, '10 items or less' was lovable. Method-acting explorations coupled with Freeman, (who can quite be credited as playing himself, or at least the tranquil, happy roles he’s played before) and Paz Vega’s charm make it a sunshine effort shot in brightness, thrust in brightness, even the night-time drive taking place in a well lit underpass and when it came to curtain-fall, I thought I hadn’t missed anything and that meant they wouldn’t have, either. And when I walked off, I asked myself why one would need to meet again if there’s a chance of lasting memories.