Modern Love takes stock from the New York Times column and unfolds across eight episodes. Each is self-contained, posing a somewhat unconventional question to its audience. What if the only trustworthy man is your doorman? Can you start over after a mistake? How do you tell someone you're bipolar?
The show is helmed by John Carney, the filmmaker to thank for Begin Again and Sing Street, and he injects a vanilla flavour of comfort into the series – writing and directing most of the episodes too. Vanilla is safe, but it is delicious. His direction is thoughtful and optimistic, bolstering Modern Love as the epitome of straightforward comfortable storytelling in trying times.
A who's who of attractive and wildly famous talent fronts each episode: Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel, Tina Fey, Andrew Scott, Olivia Cooke, Julia Garner, Catherine Keener, Andy Garcia, Sofia Boutella... and for some reason, Ed Sheeran. With a West Country accent. This aside, the stars all commit to their respective characters and patiently perform to their best.
It works, in the same way that Love Actually works. The knowledge that 30 minutes is all each storyline will get lessens the stakes, but also allows for a wide-reaching understanding of love, allegedly, in all its forms.
Every story is different, granted, but the claim to capture all experiences inevitably disappoints in parts. It depends what you're searching for – a defining understanding of the plagues and progress of such a strong and terrifying emotion, this might not be. But it paints new shades, stages unlikely situations and prompts the viewer to find their own connection, or equivalent.
In terms of standouts – Anne Hathaway's Lexi undeniably gets the strongest transformation and most difficult disappointments. Olivia Cooke's storyline disrupts the free-thinking of her co-characters and gives food for thought to any parents-to-be as well. Catherine Keener leaves a lingering sense of devotion, and Andrew Scott is reliable as ever.
But the final storyline, a wistful portrait of second chances and love beyond age, is cut short, in a slightly glib attempt to connect the dots too explicitly between all these New York City characters. It deserves an eye-roll, but Modern Love still earns its value as a kind-hearted, tender look at a feeling the world could surely always use more of.
|Modern Love, Amazon review
18 Oct 19 – 18 Oct 20, STREAMING NOW
|Click here to stream on Prime Video