Dating is hard enough, but what happens after you step back in after leaving it behind for near enough twenty years – after marriage even? The two leads in Eric Francis Melaragni’s Suddenly Single in the Suburbs are going through this exact situation. Its frank and humorous perspective captures moments specific to those going through this stage of their life, but also the more universal experiences that come with dating, such as the feeling of not being good enough. With this, the film manages to flesh out the relationship of the central characters with both fun and empathy, which makes for an enjoyable watch.
The lead characters are Denise and Mike. Both have come out of marriages and both like how their budding relationship is going so far. However, their friends and, at times, respective families suggest otherwise, nudging them to get to fourth base by their third date. From clothing choices to discussions about protection, Denise and Mike anxiously prepare themselves in their own ways. The lead actors, Denise Parella and Mike Sutton, are great in their roles, with both carrying the film effortlessly with their endearing and gentle chemistry, and Denise’s sister, Diane (played by Diane McDonald), is a delightful scene-stealer. The supporting characters are nicely sketched overall, though their characterisations are a little too similar to one another at times.
The juxtaposition of brighter shades of blue and beige often present in living spaces typical of suburban life, along with the colourful dialogue, gives the film a playful tone that is immersive yet homely. This is nicely coupled with simple shot compositions, which gently become more frantic in the moments where the lead characters become more flustered. Close-ups are used sparingly, helping emphasise the more intimate moments between characters. Additionally, the music in the film is mostly diegetic, which not only adds to the realism, but also allows for the humour in the quieter moments to shine and linger where music is noticeably absent.
By going for a minimally stylised approach from scene-to-scene, the film narrows its focus on the relationship between its characters. This allows the strong performances to be paired with thoughtfully constructed scenes present in the writing and filmmaking. As a result, this is a deceptively simple short film that paints a very lived-in picture of singlehood in one of the last places singletons would look to for dating.