Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Modern Romance. A-

In Modern Romance, Albert Brooks (who also wrote and directed the film) plays Robert Cole, a stressed out film editor and a stressed out lover so caught up in how he wants things to be that he can never sit back and appreciate how they really are. One of the points of the movie is that things can't be perfect, and its greatest joke is that Robert refuses to recognize this. His method is to break up with his girlfriend Mary (Kathryn Harrold) instead of solving the problem, and then returning to her once things have settled down and proclaiming his adamant love for her. Robert is one of the most selfish and funny characters in movie history, and also one of the most fully realized. Brooks is committed to this person and rather than giving him a traditional character arc, he lets him exist as a man like he would in real life. Hence, he opens the movie with a break-up scene. Rather than feeling like it's going from A to B, Modern Romance chooses to throw us right in the middle of Robert's life--and is all the better for doing so. At its core this is a dark and pessimistic film, but it's also a comedy. Rather than an ebb and flow method of delivering jokes, Brooks keeps them coming at a rapid-fire pace. The best of them comes in a fitness shop, where Robert allows himself to be gulled into buying way too much running equipment because he thinks he needs it to get back in shape. The salesman probably knows exactly the kind of person Robert is, that he'll probably use this stuff once or twice and then forget about it. In a way, the scene perfectly encapsulates Robert's problem with life itself. He gets into something but he lacks the consistency and the stability to keep it going.

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