Decades Collide in Micro-Indie Black Comedy Modern Love Is Automatic
A peppery, 'tude-laden micro-indie out of the Virginia–D.C. lowlands, Zach Clark's Modern Love Is Automatic seems at first to be an '80s postpunk-indie throwback, complete with retro kitsch, a riding disdain for middle-class manners, hot-blooded thrash soundtrack, and an air of disaffected apathy. But it gradually defects toward more subtle territories. Cat-eyed Melodie Sisk "IS LORRAINE SCHULTZ," scream the credits under the Norwegian black metal that serves as ironic aural punctuation. Caught in a supercool '60s mode and always sucking on a Tab, Lorraine is a numbed-out nurse incapable of the littlest social interaction. When she begins moonlighting as a hotel-room dominatrix, we hope to see her bloom. But she doesn't. Instead the action is provided by her new roommate, Adrian (Maggie Ross), a babbling caricature of a homely wannabe model who seems like a crude joke at first. As she persists, Clark's movie divvies up between Lorraine's man-whipping and Adrian's doomed efforts at self-justification—her pathetic job as a come-on mattress salesgirl is just her first circle of hell. While never losing its broad satiric sneer, Modern Love eventually becomes a portrait of an unlikely friendship, and climaxes with a shadowy karaoke triumph, to New Order's "Age of Consent." Sweet.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Netflix’s 'Narcos' Tries to Be 'The Wire' for Colombia’s Drug War
- ‘The Second Mother’ Offers a Sharp Brazilian Take on the Upstairs/Downstairs Drama
- The Predictability of Teary Kids Doc 'My Voice, My Life' Doesn't Make It Any Less Powerful
- The Subject of 'Butterfly Girl' Pushes Herself to Take Chances Despite the Pain