Editor’s Notes: Dirty Singles opened in limited release on March 4th.
Following a series of interconnected relationships, Alex Pugsley’s Dirty Singles is an impressively simplistic, yet effective romantic comedy. Based in Toronto, the film has an evidently indie-film vibe to it, which serves to amplify the realities behind the characters, and the circumstances that the characters get put in. For the most part, Dirty Singles doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the genre, but because of the realism behind Pugsley’s filmmaking, and an obvious cynicism for relationships from Pugsley, who is both the director and screenwriter, this film proves to be an effective exercise in screenwriting for a film that is limited in scope, though delightfully relevant. The casting in the film is perfect – everyone in the film seems to understand the tendencies of their characters, and no one seems out of place. Though there are circumstances where the acting falls a bit flat, nothing detracts from the layered characters that Pugsley crafts.
Though there are circumstances where the acting falls a bit flat, nothing detracts from the layered characters that Pugsley crafts.
The biggest compliment I can give Dirty Singles is the fact that, in an age of quickly changing trends, it’s an all-encompassing, relatable look at the state of the modern relationship. In most senses, Dirty Singles shouldn’t even be considered a rom-com, but rather, Alex Pugsley presents relationships with a cynical skepticism; either through personal experience or through careful observation of others, Pugsley understands better than most rom-com filmmakers that in the end, most relationships don’t work out. There’s no magical formula that can stop infidelity, and it’s completely dependent on the people that you’re with, just like there’s no formula to ensure that a seemingly picture perfect relationship will work out. This cynicism that Pugsley has is essential, as it acts to differentiate Dirty Singles from nearly all other films that are grouped underneath the romantic comedy sub-genre. These characters, too, aren’t perfect people. They aren’t people we strive to be – ultimately, they are us. That’s what makes Dirty Singles such a special film – it’s rooted in a reality that nearly all of us live at some point or another.
. . . it’s an all-encompassing, relatable look at the state of the modern relationship.
There are some surprising things in the film, as well. It’s not quite as formulaic as it seems through the first half of the film, which is certainly the weaker half. Certain characters, though they’re built up to be a stereotypical representation of a specific type of person, end up changing dynamically by the end of the film. There are storylines that end up crossing, that are unexpected. Saying this though, the biggest flaw with Dirty Singles is that through its engaging story, it all seems a bit restrained. There’s nothing in the film that screams out genius for Pugsley’s debut, though it’s still a commendable effort. Is it necessarily a flaw to lack scope that extends beyond just a small, rom-com? I’d argue that because Pugsley handles his content so well, it’s forgivable. Though Dirty Singles doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, it’s certainly a good debut from Alex Pugsley – an individual to look out for in the future.