10 Items or Less ***
It is something that everybody should experience at least once. Meeting somebody for the first time, getting to know them, sharing life experiences, and being pretty much inseparable for a short amount of time, and then to part ways, promising to keep in touch, but knowing deep down that you will never see that person again. It may sound depressing, but it is always enriching, and an amazing memory to look back upon one day with the utmost fondness. I have had meetings like that, many of them to be truthful. I have met people that I easily could find myself becoming their friends one day, but because of timing as well as just being in the moment makes it impossible to at times.
"10 Items or Less" is basically about that type of encounter, following a day in the lives of characters played by Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega-a couple that I bet you never would have expected to see together. The script pretty much consists of their dialogues, and ramblings on their present lives as they shop, eat, drive around running errands, and eventually parting ways. It's a very simple story. Freeman plays a veteran actor, known only as Him, but he could pretty much just be Morgan Freeman playing himself. The actor hasn't accepted a role in a few years, and he might make a little comeback doing a small independant film. He hasn't committed to the role, but is going to a small grocery store for the afternoon to do a little research for the part. What he finds is Scarlet, a cashier in the ten items or less line who hates her job, but can somehow punch in the prices of everything in the store extremely quickly. The only thing that is stopping advancement is the fact that the other girl working register is sleeping with the big boss, who also happens to be Scarlet's husband. Scarlet has plans on going to a job interview, to do office work and get out of the supermarket. When the actor's driver never picks him up, Scarlet decides to bring him where he needs to go. However, when he sees the life that she must live, including an encounter with her awful husband, he decides to help her throughout the day to prepare for the big interview.
Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega are wonderful together, and have exactly what it takes to carry an entire film. I was also glad that writer/director Brad Silberling didn't involve a love plot between the two of them. It was refreshing that they don't end up together, in bed or kissing, and the idea of them being a couple is far from where the story is heading. The rest of the script is equally intelligent, giving conversations between the two that sound as if actual people would have them. They never felt forced, and even when the two play an innocent little game which they call "Ten Items or Less"-naming ten or less of their feelings to whatever topic is chosen-it may seem slightly goofy and eye rolling, but the way its played doesn't make it that way at all.
Morgan Freeman is great playing a much more light role than what he is used to, and Paz Vega is absolutely beautiful. If it weren't for Penelope Cruz, I think Vega could be much more famous than she is. I adored "10 Items or Less" because it obviously came from the heart. It is not a groundbreaking addition to the history of cinema, but it is sweet, funny, and always entertaining. By the end of this film you really do care about these two people. The bond that they have created is believable, and as Paul Simon sings during the end credits, and the two of them look at each other and stay "We will never see each other" it is painful and sad to see, but also hopeful and uplifting. By finding each other, they have also found parts of themselves-parts that they never knew existed before. And it is in these chance encounters with strangers where we actually make our true friends-the ones that we will cherish forever because we don't ever see them-the gone but not forgotten.