When you blend the whimsical backdrop of New York City with adored actors and the lightheartedness of rom-coms, you get Modern Love. It’s Amazon Prime’s anthology series that retells love stories from the New York Times column of the same name, and depending on who you ask, it’s either corny garbage or an enjoyable, albeit rosy-eyed escapism for the times. I’m the latter.
Season one was regarded as a hit-and-miss, or ‘nauseating’ as the Guardian put it. Maybe I’m blinded by the likeness of Dev Patel and Andrew Scott, but I’ve got some good things to say about Amazon’s latest drop (not the one into space).
Indie filmmaker John Carney, returns to direct, casting a spell of intimacy in each episode. It’s a directorial quality that reels me in from Episode 1, which focuses on a widow’s sentimental attachment to a sportscar belonging to her deceased husband. Reimagining Doris Iarovici’s ‘On A Serpentine Road, With the Top Down’ essay, Carney illustrates attachment and grief with assistance from the charming Minnie Driver and the breathtaking scenes of the Irish countryside.
The scenes of Driver riding through mountains, defying misty air and the lonesomeness of country roads, projects you into her character’s position. You can feel the coldness pain your skin and hair as they fight the mighty wind, as if you are there. Carney constructs a parasocial interaction between viewer and setting, making it as if space and place are characters themselves. Whether it be by the sparkling Brooklyn Bridge or aboard a Dublin train, you teleport beside these characters, watching their love stories unfold like a strange third wheel.
Where this season differs from the last, is within an exploration of love through a wider age range. In the episode ‘Am I…? Maybe This Quiz Will Tell Me’, we follow a teenage girl who is questioning her sexuality, and then in the final episode we’re along the journey of two middle-aged divorcees rekindling a romance amid tragedy.
Although this season mirrors the heartwarming, albeit sappy writing of the first season, in my humble opinion, the latest episodes don’t spark as brightly. Where last season was consistently entertaining, I felt a dullness in a few episodes of this new season. Though alight with great performances by lesser- known actors and a deeper insight into themes of mental health and infidelity, it simply didn’t hit as poignantly. Perhaps I’m biased by the stardom of season one or turned slightly off by the more ‘grounded’ turn that the rom-com love stories took this season.
In its joyful viewing pleasure and uncomplicated storylines, I recommend the show and its latest season. So, grab some tissues and a wine glass, and get ready to love or hate it.
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