Sweet Parents opens with Will (David Bly) and Gabby (Leah Rudick) as two starving artists in New York City. Will is an aspiring restaurateur, and Gabby is an aspiring sculptor. Both of them struggle with their art and finances after a temporary studio apartment turns into their eight-year monument to just get by. Despite the weight of unfulfillment weighing on the unhappy couple, the two manage to find opportunity in the most unlikely places: a “sugar daddy,” “sugar momma,” or as Will puts it, a “benefactor.”
Gabby and Will enter into a world of ambiguity and where a seemingly innocent relationship can quickly open career opportunities. When Gabby meets renowned architect Oscar (Casey Biggs), she finally has the chance to travel the world and meet influential people within the art community. Feeling jealous of Gabby’s newfound friend, Will quickly finds his own benefactor in Guylaine (Barbara Weetman). She brings much-needed investors into Will’s dying dreams of owning a restaurant.
What transpires is a complex and subtle film about the price of success and what you sacrifice to achieve it. Sweet Parents in premise could be easy fodder for melodrama or quirky rom-com, but, instead, the film delivers a layered story with flawed and insecure characters on the cusp of greatness.
“Feeling jealous of Gabby’s newfound friend, Will quickly finds his own benefactor…”
With Leah Rudick and David Bly both writing, starring, and in Bly’s case, directing Sweet Parents, the film is incredibly personal. The movie takes its time fleshing out the characters and allows the relationships to grow organically. All the characters feel incredibly authentic throughout. This authenticity only adds to the tension when things get messy as relationships begin to overlap.
Will and Gabby are entirely committed to their sweet parents but still strive to maintain a real relationship with one another. Sweet Parents discusses insecurity, relationships, and how people use one another in a way few films dare to. In its climax, the movie leaves the audience in a state of ambiguous wonder or will at least keep you theorizing over the outcome.
Sweet Parents was a film I began to think about as soon as it ended. I started to replay the conversations over in my head as though I knew these characters and tried to trace where the relationship went wrong. The movie can be heavy on montages and is a bit predictable. However, neither do much to detract from the compelling characters. The dinner with the benefactors will have you shouting at the screen, and you will analyze every subtle look between the lovers for days.
Sweet Parents is a solid drama, excellent for fans of the Before Trilogy or those who love perfectly imperfect characters.
"…a complex and subtle film about the price of success and what you sacrifice to achieve it."