Review: The contrived but poignant ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ will appeal to music buffs


The ideal viewer for the British romantic melodrama “Modern Life Is Rubbish” would be anyone who knows that the title’s referring to a Blur album. Though the movie’s way too contrived, director Daniel Gill and screenwriter Philip Gawthorne (adapting their own 2009 short) clearly understand the milieu of young British music buffs, growing up and growing apart.

Josh Whitehouse plays Liam, an aspiring rocker and unapologetically obnoxious purist, who falls for Natalie (Freya Mavor), a commercial artist he meets in a record shop, who impresses him with her deep knowledge of his favorite bands and her dream of designing album covers.

The film follows a loose flashback structure, beginning with a post-breakup Liam and Natalie dividing their record collection, then showing how they grew apart — thanks to his stubborn immaturity and her willingness to compromise her ideals to make a living.


There’s a depressingly predetermined quality to this story. Though “Modern Love Is Rubbish” is critical of Liam’s crippling obedience to rock snobbery, the filmmakers also clearly judge Natalie for so easily connecting “maturity” with “giving up.”

But while the movie’s frequently infuriating, it also features moments of poignant truth — like the lovers quoting Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” while cuddling in the park, or their diverging reactions to a music culture moving away from CDs and brick-and-mortar stores and toward iPods and MP3s.

As the name suggests, “Modern Life Is Rubbish” romanticizes analog relationships — and is meant for anyone who does the same.

“Modern Life Is Rubbish”

No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Playing: Arena CineLounge, Hollywood

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