IWMBuzz reviews the web series Modern Love, which is a great watch for all. Read for more details…

Review of Prime Video’s Modern Love: It’s the best love anthology on OTT

Cristin Milioti, Laurentiu Possa, Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel , Kathreen Keener,  Tina Fey, John Slatterly, Sofia Boutella, John Gallagher  Jr,  Julia Garner, Andy Garcia, Andrew Scott, Brandon Kyle Goodman,  Olivia Kate Goodman,  Jane Alexander, James Saito

Written and directed by John Carney

Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Easily the best series I’ve seen on the OTT platform,  Modern Love is an ambrosial  anthology  of eight episodes  portraying love in all its splendour, sometimes slender, sometimes hard, but always tender and  revealing, each episode has  the stand-alone emotional strength of being a full-length  feature film.

And the perk, if one may call it that, is the city of New York looming unobtrusively over the stories like  a silent  narrator, hovering gently over the fate  of anxious characters  who are so relatable(thanks  to  the exquisite performances) they  rejuvenate the entire romantic genre  of filmmaking.

How do I pick my favourite from this beautiful of bouquet of romance? Well, if you insist it would have  to be the  first story,  “When The  Doorman  Is Your  Main Man”  where a young  single privileged  girl (Cristin Milioti) in a posh highrise of NY is  parentally protected by  the  building’s doorman(brilliantly  ‘played’ by Laurentiu Possa). This is the most epic story in the omnibus. It says so much about the intrinsically indefinable nature of human bonding, while keeping the core relationship unconditionally free  of innuendos. This is the story that  moved me to tears.

The least  moving  of the  stories , though no  less articulate ,  is   ‘So  He Looked Like Dad , It Was  Just Dinner, Right?’  where Shia Wigham and Julia  Garner do a  Lolita-redux with less than satisfying  results. Ms Garner’s own hormonal and emotional confusions do not help the plot to get to remain on its feet. Everything , from the exchanges between  father-figure and  Lolita-remixed to the final outcome of the sordid  liaison , rings a little untrue.

But then, maybe that’s in comparison with the supremely poised caliber of the series. No actor ‘plays’ a character. The word is an insult to what the actors do here. The stunning Anne Hathaway is exceptional as a bi-polar in “Take Me As I Am, Whoever I am”. This is a one-woman show and Hathaway gives a career-defining performing showing the character’s periodic descent into hell with heart-stopping  tangibility. Hathaway is Oscar-worthy.

In “At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity” two young people who have  just met  end up spending the night together at the hospital after the  guy  is  injured in  a freak accident .The strength  of this episode is not its performances(though Sofia Boutella, John Gallagher  Jr are in full control of their characters) but in the  conversation which shows how social media affects modern romantic relationships. This story  opts for a dispassionate tone to reflect on the  artificiality of  ‘Instagram’ portraits  of  real relationships.

In “Hers Was a World of One” a gay couple (Andrew Scott, Brandon Kyle Goodman) deal with the wild nomadic mother of their child Olivia Kate Goodman). This episode is unconditionally charming. Stand-out performances  by  Scott and  Goodman and  a bedrock of unquestionable humanism that  runs through  all the  stories, defines the  excellence of  the presentation.

In comparison I  found  the episode “Rallying to Keep the Game Alive” dry  and  cold, perhaps  consciously so,  as a wife trapped (Tina Fey) trapped in  a stagnant marriage to a wry entertainment executive (John Slatterly) de-freezes  her  cold marriage with some serious therapy(therapist  Sarita Chowdhary  is one of  the two  Indian actors in  the series) and  casual soul-searching. This story of a failing marriage offers no fresh insights as the narrative lumbered across repeated games of tennis. Some of the scenes in New York restaurants featuring intrusive characters seemed pointless.

Dev Patel as an entrepreneur who misses the love bus in “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist” is seen trying too hard to look love-stricken. The story has banal representations of scenes from a sterile marriage that look like out-takes from Steep-De Niro’s Falling In Love. What works here is that most of the story is shot on NY’s Central Park which serves as a stabilizing if not a motivating propulsive character.

Finally the story “The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap” about two autumnal  strangers  played wonderfully  by Jane Alexander and James Saito , who  rediscover  love at a late age.

The story fills the frames with sunshine and reminds us of how easy it is to find love if you look with an open heart.

Sure, the stories have their flaws. Isn’t that how life is? There is nothing like the perfect relationship in today’s times. Modern Love serves up lessons in finding love during times of compromise and cynicism. Not to be missed. I can’t wait for Season 2.

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