“Spinster” is being billed as “the anti-rom-com of the summer” and if there ever was a genre that needed a kick in the pants it’s the romantic comedy. Director Andrea Dorfman does more than that, curb-stomping the tired old boy-meets-girl formula in a story that celebrates self-empowerment and independence over slow motion runs through airports.
Chelsea Peretti of “Brooklyn Nine Nine” stars as Gaby, a wedding caterer whose boyfriend dumps her on her thirty-ninth birthday. Her friends encourage her to get back into the dating world but she’s not so sure. To avoid ending up like her great Aunt Elise, dead in a bathtub, undiscovered for a week, she tries speed dating and on-line sites but, she says, “I’d full-on rather be knitting.”
In the absence of a romantic life she fills her time hanging out with her niece Adele (Nadia Tonen), watching his brother Alex (David Rossetti) do terrible stand-up comedy and caring for her recently adopted “used dog.” As her fortieth birthday approaches, and the dream of owning her own restaurant comes closer to reality, she finds happiness in self-love and a speech from the opening scene reveals itself not to be prophetic. (SPOILER ALERT) “Everyone, deep down, wants someone to love,” bride-to-be (Amy Groening) tells Gaby early on. “It’s why Shakespeare ended all of his comedies with a wedding!”
“Spinster” has many charms. It has a wisecracking sense of humour courtesy of writer Jennifer Deyell, a snappy score by composer Daniel Ledwell and a firm hand in director Dorfman. Best of all it has Peretti whose practiced deadpan delivery brings some edge to the story. She has a way with a line but she also leads us down the path to Gaby’s self-discovery. As she helps Adele find confidence in her young life, Gaby is blossoming in her own. Her journey has warmth, believability and a great deal of humour.
“Spinster” is a nicely crafted, if somewhat modest, story of looking for and finding satisfaction in one own life, no matter what others say. It’s about a certain kind of love, but colours outside the rom com lines to create something refreshing.