The Reel Review

B+

This Amazon anthology series is based on The New York Times column that explores relationships, love and the human connection. Each of the eight, half hour episodes focuses on a different topic: an unlikely friendship, lost love, the effects of mental illness on relationships, a strained marriage at its turning point, an unlikely date, a May/December romance, an unconventional family and new love in the golden years.

And like the start of any promising new relationship, the first three episodes (all directed by John Carney) are absolutely terrific, with beautiful, heartfelt performances from Cristin Milioti (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Laurentiu Possa (Killing Eve) as her protective doorman, and, in the best episode, Catherine Keener and Dev Patel as a journalist and dating app developer discussing lost loves. Episode three, starring Anne Hathaway, is particularly noteworthy for its eye-openingly realistic portrait of mental illness and its frustrating impact on relationships.

Despite big name stars like Tina Fey, John Slattery, Julia Garner and Sofia Boutella, episodes 4-6 are comparative misfires, but the series picks back up with episode 7 starring Olivia Cooke as a pregnant homeless woman considering giving up her child for adoption to a gay couple. And the sweet, twist-filled finale, about love in the golden years, with Jane Alexander giving the eulogy to her newly departed love, is a gut punch. Keep the tissues handy.

While the 30 minute length limits the emotional investment in the better episodes, it is a godsend for those that aren’t so great – resulting in a pleasantly comforting, full good series that gives us hope for humanity at a time when real life events in the world are less reassuring.

REEL FACTS

• The anthology series features one Oscar winner (Anne Hathaway) and four nominees – Jane Alexander, Andy Garcia, Catherine Keener and Dev Patel.

• John Carney, the director of episodes 1-3 and 7, is also the director of the 2016 feel good musical/comedy Sing Street.

• Amazon recently announced Modern Love will be back for Season Two.

 

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