Film Comment - 11/01/2006
"Vega displays a more freewheeling spiritedness than she did in Spanglish."
New York Times - 12/01/2006
"[I]ts modesty and good humor make it hard to resist....Mr. Silberling's commitment to the small and the everyday shows bravery as well as integrity."
Where does a down-on-his-luck movie star go for inspiration when his career has sputtered to a four-year halt' This is the question director/writer Brad Silberling (LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS) poses for his central character--an unnamed actor played by Morgan Freeman--in 10 ITEMS OR LESS. The answer lies amid the cheap cereal packets and decomposing vegetables of a dilapidated grocery store on the outskirts of Los Angeles, a location Freeman travels to so he can research a potential comeback role. Once there he encounters Scarlet (Paz Vega), a Spanish cashier who, terminally bored with her life and job, takes out all her grievances on the unsuspecting customers in her 10-Items-or-Less line. At the end of Scarlet's shift, Freeman's character finds himself stranded in this desolate outpost, so he approaches her and the two strike up a deal--she will give him a ride home, but only after he has shadowed her while she finishes her errands for the day.
Freeman draws some well-observed comic material from the fish-out-of-water situations his character finds himself in, and Silberling proves his low-budget directorial chops after working on a number of bigger projects. 10 ITEMS OR LESS is a slight piece, coming in around the 80-minute mark, but the interplay between Freeman and Vega really makes the film, with the two actors finding a meaningful balance in the serious and amusing material Silberling has written for them. While Freeman's work is typical of the high quality expected of him, Vega is a revelation. Her feisty, occasionally downtrodden, and remarkably beautiful interpretation of Scarlet provides a strong indication of her potential as an actress, and bigger things will surely follow.
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