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Canadian Film Fest Review: Sugar Daddy

April 1, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Sugar Daddy, which is premiering tonight as the opening film of the virtual Canadian Film Fest on Super Channel, serves as a compelling showcase for its star Kelly McCormack. McCormack, who also wrote the film’s screenplay, stars as Darren, a classic “starving artist” living in Toronto. 

She works dead-end jobs and is struggling to pay rent to a roommate (Ishan Davé) who is starting to expect more from her. But her real passion lies in her music. A classically trained singer, Darren has developed an experimental sound that is so unique that seemingly no one is actually interested in hearing it, letting alone producing her. When she gets fired from her catering job for taking home leftover food, Darren decides to sign up for a service that rents out young women to rich older men looking for dates.

This is the basic plot of the film (it is literally called Sugar Daddy, after all). But what’s really interesting about the film is the way that McCormack’s layered screenplay explores how Darren’s new career choice comes to shape both how she is viewed in society and her own musical ambitions as well. The way that her supposedly “woke” friends react to her new job at a party provides the basis for one of the film’s most interesting conversations about women’s agency and bodily autonomy, which are big themes throughout the script.

This really is a showcase for McCormack, and she is very good here playing a complex female character that reminded me slightly of Elisabeth Moss in Her Smell. Yes, Darren’s life is messy, but she is also the only one willing to see through the bullshit of the world around her, as she starts to realize how much society is solely focused on her body. The film’s best supporting performance comes courtesy of Colm Feore, whose memorable portrayal of Gordon, one of Darren’s rich clients, keeps us questioning whether his intentions are kind or creepy.

The film serves as the feature debut of Chilean-Canadian director Wendy Morgan, who previously directed several music videos, including Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope.” It’s a confidently made film, framed in a boxy square aspect ratio, and featuring several artsy music video interludes. Built around McCormack’s performance, Sugar Daddy is an engaging film that raises interesting questions about how woman choose to use their bodies.

Kelly McCormack in Sugar Daddy

Sugar Daddy is premiering tonight exclusively on Super Channel at 9:00 PM and 12:00 AM (EDT) as the opening night film of the 2021 Canadian Film Fest, which runs from April 1st to 18th. More info and screening details can be found right here.

The film will be released across other Digital and VOD platforms on April 6th. It’s being distributed in Canada by levelFILM.

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