SUGAR DADDY – Review by Jennifer Merin

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Sugar Daddy is Canadian filmmaker Wendy Morgan’s first narrative feature and it is a film with a well told story written by a woman, made by women about women and expressing a woman’s perspective on issues faced in particular by women. The story follows Darren (Kelly McCormack, who also write the script), a young and talented musician — a starving artist, as she describes herself — who is struggling to support her day to day life and her musical aspirations by taking part time jobs. She’s fired from her catering job and, behind in her rent, she signs on to be an escort to men who pay to have dinner with her — and the deal is that the meal and her time are all they are buying. They also buy her expensive clothes to wear on her dates and other gifts that she accepts, albeit with some discomfort. And she sort of clicks with one of her patrons, a wry businessman played by Colm Feore, who invites her into his life, bringing her to artsy events, introducing her to his friends and potentially helping her in her musical career. However, when her clique of close friends, her male roommate and her sister find out about her new source of income, they question her acceptance of the ‘escort’ arrangement, and hotly debate all the issues it raises, issues of morality, self esteem and self knowledge. The film expresses Darren’s inner angst through mystical fantasy dance sequences that visually represent the torture Darren experiences as she tries to maintain her integrity. Sugar Daddy is a beautifully crafted film. Morgan, cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse and editor Christine Armstrong skillfully tell the story through moving images that subtly indicate shifts of mood and intention as they inform the viewer of Darren’s evolving feelings and circumstances. Kelly McCormack’s brave and intimate performance is simply stunning. As writer and actor, she allows Darren’s story to unfold without explanation or apology. Brava!

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).