Suze review — Comedy works thanks to key cast

Written and Directed by Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart | 93 min | ▲▲▲△△

This is a delightfully sweet and quite funny Canadian comedy about family and intergenerational strife, locked down by two terrific lead performances from Michaela Watkins and Charlie Gillespie. The family material may not be entirely original, but the intergenerational stuff is fresh — the script does a great job of mining scenarios where the characters are put in places way outside their comfort zones.

The Suze of the title is Ontario communications professional Susan (Watkins, good in everything, but especially in Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said and You Hurt My Feelings). She’s a divorcee raising her college-aged daughter, Brooke (Sara Waisglass), while still holding a lot of resentment for her ex-husband, who she discovers in the opening scene having sex with his golf-pro instructor in their swimming pool.

Brooke dates Gage (Gillespie), a golden retriever of a dude who can’t quite figure out how to graduate from high school. Gage’s pet name for Susan is Suze, channeling that Gen-Z trope of calling their elders by their first name or some diminutive of same. (As a Gen-Xer, that makes me crazy.)

When Brooke decides to go to McGill in Montreal for college, she breaks her mother’s heart for leaving her alone and then, later, Gage’s heart when Brooke ends things by text.

Brooke departs from the story for awhile, and that’s when it gets interesting — Susan and Gage are thrown together unexpectedly, partly due to Gage’s asshole Dad — essayed by Aaron of the acting Ashmore brothers, now playing fathers?! Time is meaningless.

The odd couple of Susan and Gage is complex for both of them — they find some common ground in missing Brooke, but otherwise they’re oil and water,  which makes for a lot of laughs. A scene where Gage convinces Susan to join him at a cuddle party is a highlight, especially when they cross paths with Gage’s teacher, Carl (Rainbow Sun Francks). Susan’s anger and codependence with Brooke is her main issue, while Gage has never had the kind of support he’s needed from the adults in his life — it’s amazing he’s as pleasant a person as he is.

It won’t be a surprise to those who pay attention to script conventions that things get serious at the end of the second act, and the picture doesn’t quite stick the landing — a secret held by Susan and Gage that could give Brooke’s arc a bit more altitude is never spilled, which is too bad — but there’s a lot of incidental pleasures throughout Suze, characters that feel real in their discomfort and stunted growth.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.