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ACMI Re/commends: Modern Love

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ACMI’s Summer Gooding sits down with a tub of ice-cream and a box of tissues for Amazon Prime’s eight-episode TV series adaptation of the New York Times’ column 'Modern Love'.

Who doesn’t love having a good ugly cry to a romantic movie? Sure, A Walk to Remember and The Notebook are tried and true classics, but rarely do they justify deeper intellectual scrutiny (and nor should they have to). Enter, Amazon Prime’s Modern Love

Based on the weekly New York Times column of the same name, each episode offers a different kind of love story ranging from the classic boy-meets-girl plotline to a harrowing explication of dating while managing mental illness. Over the course of eight episodes the viewer is drawn into narratives so vivid and engaging it’s hard to believe their runtimes rarely cross 30 minutes.

While Modern Love includes an impressive cast including Tina Fey, Andrew Scott, Dev Patel and Emmy Rossum, it’s the relatability of its stories that (admittedly) strike a nerve. Take episode six, 'So He Looked Like Dad. It Was Just Dinner, Right?', which sparked controversy online for its “creepy” depiction of a young woman entering a relationship with a much older male colleague in a misguided (but innocent) effort to heal her parental trauma. Or episode three, 'Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am', in which a young woman, Lexi (Anne Hathaway), navigates life and love with bipolar disorder. And episode eight, 'The Race Grows Sweeter Near its Final Lap', in which the realities of late-in-life love and mortality are explored. Here are varied experiences of love and loss, deepened by the stories’ universal truths.

Rarely do rom-coms inspire vulnerable, thought-provoking conversations the way Modern Love has. It anchors the expected soft, luminescent etchings of romance in deep explorations of those moments when life and love collide in raw, heartbreaking ways. To quote John Mellencamp, it really does “hurt so good”. Modern Love reminds us that heartbreak does indeed suck; but we can also find true connection in vulnerability. Modern love is ultimately worth the risk. 


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