Review by Camden Ferrell
Based on the title alone, Sugar Daddy may not seem like an ambitious and feminist tale of identity, but that’s certainly what Wendy Morgan’s feature directorial debut is. It features a promising talent in its lead actor and writer, and it tackles some timely themes in a unique manner even if its message can get muddled throughout the film.
Darren is a talented young musician, juggling jobs to pay rent and trying to find her place in this world. Her current lifestyle impedes her ability to create music, so she decides to sign up for a website that connects her with sugar daddies that pay her to accompany them on dates. This is an interesting premise that sets the stage for an interesting exploration of this line of work.
The script, written by Kelly McCormack is a little inconsistent. The first half features some great discussions about being a sugar baby, sex work, and the morality and ethics of the profession. She develops a really mature and informed dialogue about the nuances of the subject, but she doesn’t expand on the ideas as much as she could have.
McCormack also stars as Darren, and she does a great job of executing the character she wrote. Darren is a character that has some creative elements, but at her core, she is so relatable. We empathize with her pursuit of art in the face of economic burden, and she is flawed character that adds more layers to the film. The supporting cast is mostly forgettable, but the film doesn’t rely too heavily on them, so the film doesn’t suffer as a result.
The first half of the film balances the musical side of the film and the sugar baby story fairly well. However, the movie slowly loses control of this balancing act in the latter half. It makes the movie feel inconsistent and a little uneven towards the end. It throws off the decent momentum that is built in the first half, and it feels like a wasted opportunity to dive deeper into the social issues the film presents.
I also wish the film showed the extent of Darren’s musical talents more than it already did. She’s an interesting character who is clearly talented, but I think the movie could have done more to communicate how unique she is as an individual. Regardless, the movie has a lot to say about the struggle of many artists today, the constant battle of finding one’s voice in a world that commodifies everything.
Despite its flaws, Morgan’s film is brave, and it provides a much-needed perspective about its subject. The film is thematically ambitious, but it also takes some narrative risks in its final moments that I wish had been featured more prevalently throughout the rest of the movie.
Sugar Daddy is a movie whose merits outweighs its faults. It shows promise for McCormack as a leading actress and Morgan as a director. It’s an interesting story about one artist’s pursuit of expression in the face of the modern world, and it’s worth checking out.
Sugar Daddy is available on VOD and select theaters April 9.