Female. 39. Single. Three words that set off alarm bells for some women, but ladies, times have and are changing and Chelsea Peretti’s new film “Spinster” screams that from the mountain tops.
Peretti plays Gaby, a caterer who seems rather jaded when it comes to love and marriage as we see in the opening scene, citing the origins of the marriage contract to a prospective customer who is hell-bent on sharing an exasperating story of her “love at first sight” encounter. Dripping with sarcasm (and wisdom), Peretti portrays the realistic young woman who decided to be “single by choice.” Of course, this happens right after she’s dumped by her 3-month boyfriend with whom she inadvertently began living.
Finding solace with her childhood friend Amanda (Susan Kent), Gaby bemoans society’s pressures and expectations as she works through her own issues of self-worth and newly formed goals. Dating is a redundant endeavor, yet Gaby gives it another go and we, the audience, gets to bask in the comedic rays of snippets of disastrous dates. While there’s a bit of guilt in laughing at all the brutally awkward interactions, we gain a sense of understanding and compassion for Gaby as she lets down her guard.
Picking herself up by her bootstraps and dusting herself off, she embarks on a new adventure, that of a dog owner and weekly auntie duties to help out her overwhelmed brother. Sharing a rather tumultuous upbringing which still harbors resentment from Gaby toward her father, the two discuss life’s decisions as only siblings can. But it is the role she plays as aunt that seems to help her push away the stronghold of preconceived notions of marriage and motherhood which allows Gaby to find her true self and follow her dreams.
“Spinster” has an obvious message, but the journey we take with Gaby makes the overtness of the film an absolute pleasure. The straightforward honesty within all of her relationships propel the story forward as she gives herself permission to pave her own path.
The friendship between she and Amanda has diverged, but find a new way to connect. Their conversations give the viewer keen insight into how Gaby thinks, feels, and why she acts how she does. But it is her defensiveness at a dinner party that makes us want to stand up and cheer for her while we laugh out loud. It’s one of my favorite scenes as all the women defend one another against the accusations of insensitive, bold and condescending dinner guest. And then we have the damaged father-daughter relationship which is key in helping Gaby acknowledge and confront her past, but these wounds can only heal with the salve of forgiveness.
Peretti is comic gold with her natural style and delivery of incredibly honest material. The connection between she and her niece Willow (Charlie Boyle) is sweetly sincere, and the hostility she exudes when she’s with Bill Carr’s character of Jack, her father, is palpable. Peretti shines in this role and allows all those around her to do the same.
Consistent humor while splaying open the reality of society’s pressures upon women is an unusual combination that makes this film work. It is ok to not be married by 30 or 40 (or ever). It’s ok to not have kids. And it’s ok to follow your dreams and attain your goals whether you’re male or female. What a great message in a film AND you get to laugh your ass off, too!
3 ½ Stars
Available on all major digital platforms beginning Friday, August 7, 2020