Free Ride (2013 film)

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Free Ride
Free Ride film.jpg
Film poster
Directed byShana Betz
Written byShana Betz
Produced bySusan Dynner
Cerise Hallam Larkin
Anna Paquin
Stephen Moyer (executive) Wendy Williams
StarringAnna Paquin
Drea de Matteo
Cam Gigandet
Liana Liberato
CinematographyQuyen Tran
Edited byDanny Daneau
Music byJeff Russo
Aberration Films
Casm Films
Pantry Films
Distributed byPhase 4 Films
Release date
  • October 11, 2013 (2013-10-11) (HIFF)
  • January 10, 2014 (2014-01-10) (limited)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States

Free Ride is a 2013 American crime drama film produced by and starring Anna Paquin. It was written and directed by Shana Betz (aka Shana Sosin), and is based on her childhood in Fort Lauderdale. The film premiered at the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival.[2]


Set in the late 1970s, Christina (Paquin) is a single mother from Ohio who escapes her abusive partner, along with her two daughters; teenaged MJ (Liberato) and seven-year-old Shell (Acres). She moves to the Florida coast where she meets up with a friend (De Matteo) who gets her a job in drug smuggling. But Christina must meet the challenges of protecting and providing for her children, with her oldest daughter being more defiant and the hazards of her occupation.[3]



Filming locations for the film included various sites throughout Sarasota County, Florida (including Venice and Englewood).[5]


Free Ride premiered at the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival on 11 October 2013.[2]

Free Ride opened the 28th Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLiFF) on 18 October 2013.[6]

Free Ride had a limited theatrical release on 10 January 2014.[7]



For directing Free Ride, the inaugural Tangerine Entertainment Juice Award (honoring an outstanding female filmmaker) was given to Shana Betz at the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival.[8][9]

Critical response[edit]

Free Ride has received negative reviews. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 14% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 7 reviews, with an average score of 3.9/10.[1] On Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 41 based on 9 reviews, considered to be "mixed or average".[10]

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, John DeFore said the film was "[a] loving portrait of a mother many would say deserves a much more critical eye".[11]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times writes that "[f]rom top to bottom, [the story] feels authentic, and its laid-back, nonjudgmental tone evokes the easygoing world of Jimmy Buffett songs celebrating how changes in latitude bring changes in attitude. Much of the movie seems bathed in the pink-grapefruit haze of a Florida sunset. [...] Free Ride offers an unsettling vision of a demimonde whose inhabitants live with the reality that there may be no tomorrow."[12]

Diego Costa of Slant Magazine gave the film two out of four stars, and commented that "Paquin's believable performance keeps the all-too-neat narrative from completely surrendering to cheesy melodrama, and Betz's script is refreshingly devoid of embellishment or poetic ambition. But the filmmaker's too-insistent refusal to commit to the melodramatic or to the suspenseful only makes Free Ride seem like empty dramatization in the end."[13]

Elizabeth Weitzman of New York Daily News gave the film two out of five stars, commenting that Betz was "unable to do the story justice as either a writer or director. [...] While this true-life odyssey should be the basis for a compelling drama or even a taut thriller, slack direction and a weak screenplay undermine the plot’s inherent tension." Weitzman thought Paquin was miscast and "never settles into the role."[14]


  1. ^ a b "Free Ride (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b McCracken, Kristin (25 September 2013). "HIFF 2013 Spotlight, World Cinema and Special Screenings Announced". Hamptons International Film Festival. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Free Ride (2013)". Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Free Ride – Trailer – Cast – Showtimes". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2013. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Free Ride (2013) Filming Locations". IMDb. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival Unveils 2013 Lineup; Open with FREE RIDE and Closes with WALKING WITH THE ENEMY". 19 September 2013. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  7. ^ Lombardi, Ken (9 January 2014). "Anna Paquin on playing a drug-smuggling mom in "Free Ride"". CBS News. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  8. ^ "'Desert Runners' Take Audience Awards At Hamptons Film Festival". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  9. ^ "HIFF 2013 Awards Announced – Hamptons International Film Festival". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Free Ride". Metacritic. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  11. ^ DeFore, John (30 October 2013). "Free Ride: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen (9 January 2014). "I Remember Mama, the Pot Smuggler". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  13. ^ Costa, Diego (8 January 2014). "Free Ride Film Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  14. ^ Weitzman, Elizabeth (9 January 2014). "'Free Ride': Movie review". New York Daily News. Retrieved 13 March 2014.

External links[edit]