Leah Rudick … Gabby
Written and directed by David Bly
Sweet Parents Review
Sweet Parents opens with a young couple, Will and Gabby, looking at various apartments in New York City. The first is a basement that barely functions as appropriate, the second has yet to be vacated and the third comes with a Nazi swastika painted on the wall.
“What are we doing here,” a frustrated Will asks. “I get it, everyone has to struggle here. I know it takes time. You don’t just find five-hundred dollars sitting in the middle of an empty street. We find a dollar bill floating in a puddle of mud with fifty hands grabbing for it.”
And so, begins a story many can relate to in which an ambitious couple struggle to make ends meet in a highly competitive world where opportunities are rare and success is based more on who you know than actual skill.
Will, an aspiring chef, must deal with pompous restaurant managers with zero food knowledge and terrible people skills. Gabby must contend with the complicated world of design where her sculptures have yet to make much noise.
One night, the couple meet a man named Pierce who brags about his recent travels to the Hamptons. As it turns out, Pierce latched onto what he dubs a “sweet parent,” or a rich older person who gives him everything he wants in exchange for, ah, intimacy. “You should try it,” Pierce exclaims to Will, who scoffs at the idea and proclaims, “He’s the reason this city is so goddamned expensive!”
Naturally, Gabby begins mingling with an older Brazilian man named Oscar and, unwittingly or not, finds herself the recipient of his lavish gifts. The man is well connected and whisks her away to other countries where she has the opportunity to show off her work to renowned artists across the globe. Will, unsure how to react to Gabby’s new relationship, mainly knowing he can’t possibly compete with Oscar’s extensive bank account, then proceeds to find his own “sugar momma,” or, a woman named Guylaine who likewise uses her considerable resources to help his career.
Amidst their newfound success, Will and Gabby’s relationship struggles; and before long the couple must choose between love and career.
Sweet Parents is a fascinating morality tale that asks some very intriguing questions. Is it realistic to have a family and a successful career at the same time? Is it wrong to latch onto someone with more experience and resources, even if the relationship doesn’t result in intimacy or love? Can a young relationship survive the difficulties that come with financial hardships?
The film doesn’t offer any solutions — probably because none exist — but warns that whatever decision we make will ultimately come laced with regret. In other words: choose wisely and prepare to live with the consequences.
Sweet Parents is well acted and well-constructed. We know what’s coming, but the script takes the time to establish Will and Gabby’s predicament before tossing their relationship into the blender. There’s a terrific scene in which Gabby tries to convince Will to let Oscar take her to Brazil where she can mingle with other artists. A great opportunity, sure, but Gabby clearly knows where her relationship with Oscar is headed; even as she assures Will otherwise. Later, to counter Gabby’s move, Will engages in a dinner date with Guylaine and must decide just how far he is willing to go to get what he wants — a scene ripe with delicious tension.
These scenes only work because the characters are well constructed, the writing is sharp, and the acting remains on point throughout. And, to its credit, the film, as directed by David Bly, never devolves into schlock — in a manner like, say, Indecent Proposal, which likewise asked whether a small amount of sexual frivolity was worth a lifetime of financial security.
Instead, Bly keeps his camera focused intently on his characters and watches them grapple internally with decisions they know will forever impact their lives. The results are delectable — an intricate battle between the heart, mind, body and soul.