Sugar Daddy presents an appealingly simple story: Darren (actress Kelly McCormack, in an enthralling lead performance), a talented aspiring musician, is stone-cold broke. Darren stumbles upon an easy way to build funds: a website where rich guys set up dates, and women get paid just to go. The lead character’s emotional state as she flirts with success is self-destructive behavior at its most cookie-cutter. The plot doesn’t take many risks, relishing in the predictability, but does manage to serve as both meaningful character study and insightful music industry commentary.
Sugar Daddy is a dark and uncomfortable watch, hitting a combination of edgy and pretentious that sometimes strikes the perfect target. The singer/songwriter angle brings the hypnotic melodies of the music into the soundtrack at full force. A stunning scene set in the walls of a recording booth, with no outside noise as we experience the audio just like Darren would, is orchestrated to precision by director Wendy Morgan.
The dialogue is hilarious, though dated ideas about sex work and prostitution feel out of place when they pop up. It was much funnier than I expected—an especially memorable piece of dialogue sheds light on the “blowjay” – a blowjob to get the boy to go away. Lead actress Kelly McCormack, who also wrote the screenplay, is revelatory and perfect as Darren. You can feel the passion and urgency in her raw, stripped down vocals. It was very bold of this film to flash the word “atrocious” onscreen merely seconds before the end credits begin. I’m happy to report that this adjective is not reflective of Sugar Daddy’s quality. Sugar Daddy comes to VOD April 6th, followed by select theaters April 9th.