SUZE is the Odd Couple the 2020s Have Been Waiting For

It was only last week that actress-producer Tanis Parenteau related to me her hope that more starring roles would open up for women over 40, thereby utilizing criminally under-tapped potential in the acting community. I have a feeling she would be immensely pleased with Suze, a tender humanist film that has been slowly generating buzz at Canada’s minor festivals (Calgary, Sudbury, Victoria) ahead of its general theatrical release this week.

At age forty-something, the titular Suze (Michaela Watkins) finds herself with an empty nest, her daughter Brooke (Sara Waisglass) having jetted off to Montreal for University and her cheating husband (Sandy Jobin-Bevans) having long since remarried. Still pining for her absent daughter, Suze finds herself in the odd position as unofficial guardian for Brooke’s recently-dumped boyfriend Gage (Charlie Gillespie) after a failed suicide attempt and his dad (Aaron Ashmore) unable to supervise his recovery due to working out-of-town.

Initially chafing at the idea of sharing a roof with a young man she considered ill-suited to date her daughter, Suze finds herself bonding with the wayward Charlie. He gains a stable home-life and she gains someone who actually seems to value her presence (Brooke won’t return her calls). But this friendship-by-fire also opens up some emotional wounds that neither are equipped to deal with. 

Under the capable scripting and direction of Dane Clark and Lindsay Stewart, stars Watkins and Gillespie absolutely shine in their surrogate mother and son roles. Both characters find themselves at a crossroads, having both been abandoned by the same girl and facing a new unknown chapter in their lives. Suze still hasn’t moved on from the damage wrought by her husband cheating on her and Gage chafes under the indifference of his dad and an absentee mom in prison. They find unlikely solace in each other’s company as she awakens untapped ambitions and talent in the young man and he reminds her that life doesn’t stop after the nest empties.  A mismatched pair thrown together at just the right time and a simple story well told.

About two-thirds in, Suze reminded me very much of another film I had immensely enjoyed last year, The Holdovers. Both films deal with the odd couple of a misanthropic adult paired with an unloved adolescent and overall engage in similar themes. Fortunately, Clark & Stewarts film employs enough unique traits to allow it status as a valued companion film rather than an inferior ripoff. In these unusually fractious times, we need more stories that attempt to bridge the generation gap.

Dramatically satisfying and cunningly witty, Suze ticks all the boxes of a satisfying film and one that isn’t afraid to showcase its Canadian setting. What more could a jaded online Canadian film magazine reviewer ask for? Highly recommended.




Suze releases theatrically in Canada on Feb 23

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