Being single in your late 30s is akin to the Scarlett letter. And don’t even think about not having kids with 40 fast approaching. That’s the narrative completely upended by Spinster, a heartfelt and funny exploration of modern single life backed by a terrific lead performance from Chelsea Peretti.
Gaby (Peretti, The Photograph) is a caterer who predictably spends the springtime season tackling a ton of weddings. Yeah, the pay is good, but Gaby gets bored with the simple menu requests and can barely hold back her disgust for the overly enthusiastically in love brides.
For Gaby love and marriage is more of a fairy tale she’s not interested in reading. It doesn’t help that Gaby’s still bitter over her father Jack (Bill Carr, The Mist) having an affair, getting remarried and having another family.
It was refreshing how screenwriter Jennifer Deyell doesn’t bludgeon viewers explaining Gaby’s particular quirks. Is she perfect? No, but Deyell doesn’t devote the entire script trying to pick Gaby apart to somehow justify her single status.
After her boyfriend moves out, Gaby is at a dating crossroads. Should she further lower her standards, try dating apps or even joining a softball league.
Director Andrea Dorfman wisely devotes enough screen time to these various scenarios to show Gaby is fine trying to give love a chance.
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It’s not until Gaby’s brother, Alex (David Rossetti), asks her to send some time hanging out with her niece, Adele (a completely adorable Nadia Tonen), that she discovers a softer side and an appreciation for children without the stigma of being childless herself. Gaby also gets unexpected encouragement from her older next door neighbor who shows that a single life isn’t about collecting cats and knitting, but more of doing what makes her happy. Dorfman lets these scenes play out well where it doesn’t feel like a big MESSAGE! subtitle should flash across the screen. They’re more thoughtful, subtle exchanges well crafted in giving Gaby another perspective.
Peretti is incredible in these scenes. It’s always fun watching a performer who typically gets minor moments to shine in ensemble pieces so enthusiastically seize the opportunity in a starring role to this level. From her line delivery to her dead on “I’m over this” expressions, Peretti doesn’t miss a beat whether from Gaby’s opening miserable life status to her giving life another chance to surprise her phase.
Spinster’s diverse cast is commendable and shows just how easy it is to include different characters in speaking roles can be with minimal effort.
The only real misfire comes in the final act with a random occurrence Gaby has with a stranger (Jonathan Watson) who’s actually interested. Their initial encounter is weird and the scene drags on too long for the payoff, which would have been just as effective in five minutes instead of 10.
It’s clear how obvious modern day romantic comedies have poisoned my thinking as literally every time a new guy arrived on screen I started sizing them up for Gaby. Deyell likely wants audiences reverting to that cliche thinking instead of embracing the film’s entire point — if love comes along for Gaby, great; but it’s not like she can’t live her best life if she stays single either.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Vertical Entertainment