Modern Life Is Rubbish

**

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Modern Life Is Rubbish
"While the flashback element of the film is solidly worked, the dialogue is clunky to the point that the romantic moments sound like a cliche-swapping contest, rather than heartfelt emotions."

Truisms of filmmaking: It's a brave person who puts a word in the title of their film that could, indeed, almost certainly will, be taken down and used in evidence against it. So, points for courage then, to director Daniel Jerome Gill and screenwriter Philip Gawthorne - although I expect this may come to be a lesson learned the hard way.

Gill's debut feature - based on the 2009 short of the same name - is what can only be described as a split-cute between young couple Natalie (Freya Mavor) and Liam (Josh Whitehouse). They are on the brink of moving out of their shared home and splitting their record collection. Over the course of the film, we flash back in time as memories of the Nineties, rekindled by their tunes, show us the way they were. In essence, they are mismatched - not that that is going to get in the way of Gawthorne's romanticism.

Natalie is an art designer who dreams of creating record sleeves, while Liam is a wannabe musician who has no truck with the niceties of modern life - saving particular vitriol for the likes of iPods and Smartphones. While Natalie sees the sense in taking a job to pay the bills, Liam is a dreamer who refuses to bow to the system - leading to the tension in the pair's relationship. The film becomes fascinating less for the will they/won't they nature of the romance - after around 30 minutes, you'll want to split up with Liam, too - as for the mileage Liam's selfishness is given.

Gill has a string of second unit director credits to his name and his work with up-and-coming cinematographer Tim Sidell has an energy and fluidity that comes from experience. He also employs unusual camera angles that bring a freshness to familiar moments, such as the couple's first night together. Unfortunately, the script from Gawthorne, who has previously worked mainly in television, is no match for it. While the flashback element of the film is solidly worked, the dialogue is clunky to the point where the romantic moments sound like a cliche-swapping contest, rather than heartfelt emotions.

Despite the failings of the script, which treats Natalie as little more than a one-note plot driver for Liam's life, Mayvor - so good in The Lady In The Car With Glasses And A Gun - continues to impress. Ian Hart - who puts in an awards-worthy performance in fellow Edinburgh Film Festival movie God's Own Country - also has a lot of fun as a mysterious music producer in the mode of Alan McGee.

This is ultimately a film that is in too in love with its own nostalgia - sometimes it's best to move on.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2017
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Rom-com sees a couple whose relationship is on the rocks who find a shared love of music makes breaking up hard to do.

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