I’ve missed Chelsea Peretti’s presence in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so it’s great to see her back on my screen again with Andrea Dorfman’s film Spinster. The film is as the title suggests, with Peretti’s Gaby still single on her thirty-ninth birthday, and the life ahead seems to one spent on the shelf. Dorfman’s film rightly points out how difficult it is to be a single woman at Gaby’s age. Being single is all fun and games when you’re younger, but as you get older, people aren’t as forgiving. “Don’t you want children?” – Gaby is often asked, where her singlehood is an affront to them. They have sacrificed aspects of themselves to be parents, to have a family – does she feel she’s above all that?
Singlehood also becomes a difficult thing when your family and good friends are all coupled up, so dinners become a couple thing instead of a regular get-together. Every single social activity just draws attention to your single status. Initially, Gaby is defensive and presents herself as a cynic who doesn’t believe in love, even though we know she does want to find someone. This defense mechanism is far easier than presenting the truth, because the truth gets you pity, with a world looking at you, wondering aloud at your faults.
Peretti’s performance is truly the highlight of the film. She is so effortlessly funny, and the film and script does a stellar job in letting her shine at what she does best. I enjoyed Gaby’s conversations with Amanda (Susan Kent), her moments with niece Adele (Nadia Tonen) and her neighbour showing her that being single doesn’t mean you are alone. Gaby’s singlehood allows her to reconnect with the people around her and build stronger bonds, instead of chasing romance for the sake of it.
The film does go into predictable spaces though, with Gaby deciding to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant as a path towards self-fulfillment, not to mention her restaurant is complete once her fortieth birthday comes around, which seems awfully convenient. Since Gaby has a catering business and is a chef, I was hoping for some food visuals, but the only overhead food photography we got was Peretti making cucumber sandwiches? Since food is such a passion of hers, I wish it had been given more of a space in the film.
As we reach the conclusion of the film, we remain aware that Gaby is still open to love. Being single now doesn’t mean things need to be status quo forever. While on a hike with her dog, Gaby has a sweet connection with a fellow hiker, and while Gaby recognises the chemistry and the possibility of a relationship with this man, she no longer feels the need to push things into the space of a relationship. If it works, it works, and she will be open to it. In the meantime, her life is awesome, and we are happy that when she speaks about her self-worth, instead of a defense mechanism, she truly means it.
If that’s the spinster life, then sign me up.
Review screener provided.
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Andrea Dorfman's Spinster is the perfect platform for Peretti's charms and humour, and offers a socially relevant take on female singlehood.
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