'Spinster': Film Review

Spinster Still 2 - Vertical Entertainment Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
All the single ladies put your hands up.
8/7/2020

Chelsea Peretti ('Brooklyn Nine-Nine') takes the lead in this Nova Scotia-set film that can only be described as an 'aromantic' comedy.

“Everyone, deep down, wants someone to love,” proclaims a smug bride-to-be (Amy Groening) in the opening minutes of Spinster during a meeting with caterer Gaby (Chelsea Peretti), the heroine of the film. “It’s why Shakespeare ended all of his comedies with a wedding!”

And yet, as so many of us know, not everyone gets, or even wants, that particular flavor of happy ending. This amiable, millennial-skewed comedy sees Gaby pursue a different path over several seasons as she redefines her #goals and grows to like living a single life in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Of course, it takes place during an era when the coronavirus hasn’t yet struck, leaving Gaby with a wealth of lifestyle options to contemplate. We can only wonder how the story would have turned out if it had been set in 2020, locking its heroine at home alone with only her ex-boyfriend’s board games and a bag of knitting wool for company.

Peretti creates in Gaby a character who is definitely a few clicks warmer on the likability knob and less self-absorbed than her Gina in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but still cut from the same wisecracking, smartass cloth. As the film opens, it’s established that she’s been so absorbed by her work as a caterer that she barely noticed that her introvert boyfriend, Nathan (Eugene Sampang), with whom she has almost nothing in common, has not only cooled on her but started an affair with an ex who does appreciate his love of board games.

Packing up most of the furniture along with the cardboard boxes of games, he moves out on Gaby’s birthday, leaving her to spend the evening with her sympathetic if distracted best friend, Amanda (Susan Kent), a mother of two with a side hustle doing photography.

This affords an opportunity to show that Gaby isn’t great with younger children given how she berates one of Amanda’s kids for touching the cheese left out for company. She even gets into an argument with another guest (Kirsten Olivia Taylor) about the ethics of parenting itself, arguing (not incorrectly) that the desire to procreate stems from egotism and has a devastating impact on the environment.

However, Gaby finds that not having a child herself doesn’t mean she needn’t have kids in her life — especially when her divorced brother Alex (David Rossetti) has such an adorably geeky 10-year-old daughter, Adele (Nadia Tonen), who needs babysitting, knitting lessons (less convincing, as Peretti is clearly awkward with the needles) and maternal affection from her hip aunt Gaby.

In fact, and this hopefully won’t be much of a spoiler for anyone given the obvious line of argument at stake here, Adele and a cute mutt named Trudy turn out to be the story’s true objects of affection as our heroine shifts her attention away from dating and looking for the perfect man. Perhaps a more adventurous film might have suggested she get a little bi-curious, or at least buy a vibrator, but this is a nice, wholesome, politely Canadian sort of movie that a girl might watch with her mother in order to suggest that Mom stop nagging about grandchildren.

As such, it’s as inoffensive and pleasant as a primetime sitcom, although a bit more bite — and interest in food, given the heroine’s profession — might have added some plausibility and verisimilitude.

Distribution: Vertical Entertainment (VOD and digital platforms)
Production: A Game Theory Films presentation of a Northeast Films, Shut Up & Colour Pictures, Woods Entertainment production
Cast: Chelsea Peretti, Kate Lynch, Susan Kent, Jonathan Watton, Nadia Tonen, David Rossetti, Kirsten Olivia Taylor
Director: Andrea Dorfman

Screenwriters: Jennifer Deyell
Producers: Bill Niven, Jay Dahl, Marc Tetreault, William Woods
Executive producers: Mark Gringras
Director of photography: Stephanie Weber Biron
Production designer: Michael Pierson
Costume designer: Sarah Haydon Roy
Editor: Simone Smith
Music: Daniel Ledwell
Music supervisor: Janesta Boudreau
Casting: Michael Testa, Lisa Ystrom, Erin Hennessey, Marsha Chesley
Sales: Vertical Entertainment

87 minutes