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Review: ‘Suze’ is a sweet tale of reinvention

‘Suze’ is the charming story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a brokenhearted woman and teen

A scene from 'Suze'
A scene from 'Suze' courtesy of levelFILM
A scene from 'Suze' courtesy of levelFILM

‘Suze’ is the charming story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a perimenopausal woman and a lost teenager who had their hearts broken by the same girl.

There are many people for whom one does not have a choice whether they are in your life: spouse’s friends and relatives, other relatives’ significant others, co-workers, club members and the list goes on. In some cases, you may be able to limit the amount of time you spend together, but even that is not always possible. However, on the rare occasion, after being forced to spend time together, you may find you misjudged them and they’re not as bad as you thought. In Suze, an empty-nester is saddled with caring for her daughter’s ne’er-do-well high school boyfriend.

Susan (Michaela Watkins) is a divorcee and single mother to a newly graduated daughter, Brooke (Sara Waisglass). As Brooke prepares to head off to university, Susan wonders what she will do with all the time she devoted to caring for her only child. Then a twist of fate causes Susan to reluctantly agree to look after Brooke’s boyfriend, Gage (Charlie Gillespie), for a few weeks following an accident. She’s always thought her daughter could do better than the high school dropout in a band and despised that he shortens her name to “Suze” in spite of repeated reminders, but it turns out there’s more to him than just the loser in love with her daughter.

This is a movie about self-discovery for both Susan and Gage. She dedicated her life to Brooke, no matter how ungrateful she was for the attention. Even when her daughter returns none of her calls until she needs something, Susan jumps to fulfill her request. Similarly, Gage’s commitment to Brooke is unparalleled and her leaving for school has left his life without meaning. They both built their identities around Brooke and must now figure out who they are without her — a journey that is painful, embarrassing, enlightening and freeing.

They’re definitely an odd couple with opposing personalities, a significant age difference and completely contradictory outlooks on life. Yet, over the course of their forced cohabitation, they form a mutual, beneficial (and predictable) friendship. The performances of Watkins and Gillespie are what make this picture sweet rather than an awkward May-December drama. There’s no inappropriate sexual tension or skewed power dynamic to navigate. They’re just two people nursing broken hearts and learning to look past their superficial perceptions of each other. The proof of their potential growth comes at the end of the movie when they’re both faced with situations that test their newfound strength. Even though the characters will have to carry on working on themselves, the audience is given a sense of closure.

Directors: Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart
Starring: Michaela Watkins, Charlie Gillespie and Sara Waisglass

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Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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