Change Your Life by Changing Lanes

Last Updated Jun 24, 2009 8:54 PM EDT

10 Items or Less is an independent film shot in 15 days starring Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega. I first saw it on a plane trip to Los Angeles; I was attracted admittedly by the chance of watching Paz Vega in action. To my astonishment as I watched the film I discovered it to be an excellent introduction to lifting your emotional intelligence.

Paz plays Scarlett, who is a check-out chick in a dilapidated supermarket in an Hispanic suburb of Los Angeles. She is desperate to escape. Morgan Freeman plays an actor (known as Him) who has been very successful but is now suffering from "movie-fright", not having made a film for some four years. He is at the supermarket researching whether to participate in a small independent movie that will be below the radar and so not destroy his reputation if it fails. One of the ironies of the film is how it makes one wonder whether Morgan Freeman is playing himself. (You can watch the director, Brad Siberling, explaining he is not.)

Morgan sees Scarlett in action in the 10 items or less lane. Preternaturally intelligent but brusque in all her dealings with people, Paz, a stubborn and proud loner, is her own worst enemy. For example, and this is very unusual for a woman, she refuses to asks for directions. Morgan is bemused and subsequently discovers that she is applying for a job in an office in an attempt to change her life. Over the rest of the film, Morgan sets about preparing her for the interview by lifting Scarlett's emotional intelligence.

For example, Morgan cheerfully engages in conversation with various diverse characters until Scarlett finally asks in desperation, whether he talks to every one he comes across. Morgan replies in the affirmative, saying you should like people and You Are Who You Meet. He ensures that her car gets washed, explaining that offices have windows and first impressions are the most important. If people see you getting out of a dirty car, that can destroy an interview. During the film, Morgan constantly refers to Scarlett's upcoming interview as an audition, and how important it is to look right, dress right and have social energy.

The film is readily available on video; indeed it was released digitally only two weeks as its first cinema showing, which supposedly is a milestone in movie history. It is only 80 minutes long and well worth watching.