Modern Romance (1981)

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Albert Brooks is someone who could talk through an entire scene. Without a pause, he could tire you out with his repeated wallow on self-pity, cynicism and paranoia until you want to move over to the next scene only to realize you crave another edition of the same scene. You inherit the neuroticism from the character and it is the humorous evil hidden in the closet of the scene that cons you into doing it.

My first experience with Albert Brook’s movies is Mother (1996), which I chanced upon during one of those late-night movie marathons on TV. He is much like a younger brother of Woody Allen, only less intense. He chooses to play the self-indulgent, highly-strung, lonely bachelor who uses hair-splitting, misplaced profundity, and scathing commentary on mediocrity to his defense. Despite such fiendish nature, he could make a movie that’s, in a broader view, a sweet celebration of romance. Everybody needs love, even the wise ones, don’t they?

Modern Romance is a gem. Robert and Mary break up with each other like a routine. Every time they break up, they try to get close and every time they get close, they try to break up. Robert’s attempt to cut and paste the routine during every other scene is in reality how romance works as opposed to what he wants, also referred to as “Movie Love” by the writer in a scene.

Every scene is awkwardly funny much like a twitchy eyelid that you cannot shake off for an entire day. Apart from his loopy whims after the break-up, his date with a random contact from his phone-book and the scene in the dubbing studio where he works to cater to the director’s obsession for thumping footsteps are a few of the exhilarating moments. Wish the movie were a little longer with many such encounters.

Modern Romance outlines what’s happening in the world where people are trying to be together with chock-full of Albert Brook’s quirks.

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