Review by Sean Boelman
Chelsea Peretti has proven herself to be a wonderful comedic talent in supporting roles, but to this point had not gotten a chance with a meatier part. That changes with Andrea Dorfman’s new film Spinster which, although conventional, takes full advantage of its star’s strengths to deliver a mostly enjoyable watch.
The movie follows a thirty-nine year-old woman who, after a break-up, must confront her feelings of loneliness and explore what it means to be single in the 21st century. Anti-rom-coms are nothing particularly new, and the story is rather predictable as a result, but Jennifer Deyell’s script is down-to-Earth in a way that is often quite funny.
Deyell divides the story into different segments based on seasons, and as is the case with many films with similarly episodic structures, the time jumps can be a bit disorienting. It seems that as soon as the viewer starts to connect with a particular portion of the character’s experience, it cuts away, which can be frustrating.
However, at less than ninety minutes in length, the movie moves along pretty quickly, mostly due to the steadily-paced jokes. Peretti is above and beyond the funniest part of the film, everyone in the supporting cast only getting a few jokes here and there, but her comedic timing is excellent and drives the narrative along.
There is an attempt to give the movie more of an emotional impact by exploring the relationship that forms between the protagonist and her niece, but this is disappointingly underdeveloped. It’s disappointing, because the young actress that plays the niece is absolutely wonderful, but Deyell’s focus seems to be on other things.
Of course, there are the obligatory romantic subplots here, a few of which are pretty funny. But unfortunately, Peretti acts circles around her scene partners in these cases, leaving something to be desired in that regard. The film almost certainly would have been better had it used that time on some of the more compelling subplots.
In terms of execution, Dorfman’s movie is straightforward but effective. There are a few points of potential that are left on the table, like the fact that food plays a substantial role in the storyline yet there is no significant use of cooking sequences or even plated food. Still, in a film that otherwise mostly works, this bit of missed opportunity isn’t a significant detractor.
For the most part, Spinster is a funny and well-acted comedy. Apart from a few moments that lean a bit too heavily on convention, it’s a sincere entry into a genre that is too often overly sentimental.
Spinster hits VOD on August 7.