Friday, April 23, 2010

Modern Love (2006)

Modern Love

Written by Nick Matthews
Directed by Alex Frayne

John...Mark Constable
Emily...Victoria Hill
Edward...William Traegar

In what is being called an Australian Gothic Psychodrama, John and his family (wife Emily and son Edward) say farewell to the city for what is supposed to be a brief sojourn into the countryside to claim an inheritance left when John's uncle Tom committed suicide.  But finding themselves in the strange rural setting where John grew up, surrounded by the off-kilter locals that he once knew, seems to have an unwanted effect on John's mind.

Unable to accept the idea that Tom had killed himself, John begins to display a change in personality--perhaps even the personality of Tom himself.  He also hears voices from the radio, telling him that not everything is as it seems around here.

American cinema has made great use of the Creepy Little Town motif, so an Australian take should have been a slam-dunk.  The rural Aussie townsfolk would be foreign enough to American audiences to warrant attention, but recognizable enough to keep us in the theory.  Too bad that in practice, Modern Love doesn't manage it successfully for my tastes.

With its slow-moving storyline, non-linear plot structure, complex soundscapes, artfully managed camerawork, and deadpan color palette, it becomes obvious that this is meant to be more than a mere genre film...and I can respect that.  I'm all for bringing a little of the arthouse into the grindhouse.  But only if it doesn't compromise the film as a whole.

The truth of the matter is that I found this movie to be a convoluted and pretentious mess.  And a painfully dull one at that.  It took everything I had not to hit that FF button (to say nothing of the EJECT button), having faith that in the end it would pull itself together.

It tried.  Lord knows it tried...but too little too late.

Call me crazy, but I'm pretty damn sure that art doesn't have to be boring.  Anyone else agree?

And no, the title makes absolutely no sense at all.  Just in case you were wondering.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, what a damn shame. Briefly sounded interesting, I like an atmospheric slow-burn on occasion. Oh, well, maybe if it's on TV some time and I've nothing else to do. I'm a glutton for punishment.


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