Modern Life is Rubbish

Modern Life is Rubbish
Modern Life is Rubbish
Directed by Daniel Jerome Gill
Starring Josh Whitehouse, Freya Mavor, Tom Riley and Ian Hart
In UK Cinemas May 4th, 2018

by Gemsy

Modern Life is Rubbish is the High Fidelity for the early iPod generation. Brought together through their passion for music and then each other, the present day for the two main characters, Natalie (Freya Mavor) and Liam (Josh Whitehouse), is the horror that all cohabiting-but-breaking-up indie couples face: spitting up the music collection.

Through flashbacks, we’re piece-by-piece shown their early relationship days. They fall in love with tunes, each other and eventually a joint future. Her dream is seeing her design on an album cover and his the successful rise of his three-piece indie band. They live in sickeningly happy young-love bliss in their little London apartment and everything looks wonderful.

But then we move further up memory lane towards present day and the digital age and the flashbacks show less of the perfect young couple. Natalie starts leaving her dreams behind to support them financially while Liam practically remains an 18-year-old: still dreaming of headlining main festival stages while using his (copious, due to being inept at keeping jobs) spare time to do things like rearrange their music collection instead of work on new songs. Their visions of their joint future start dichotomising, and we start to see how the present-day situation arose.

A huge joy for those in the audience around their mid-thirties will definitely be taking a trip back in time via the Britpop soundtrack to first listening to these tunes (when life was large and unexplored, dreams were all still big and drugs sounded exciting). However, situations universal to all ages – such as that awkward ‘first time’ or the time you thought you might work everything out with a partner, but then things fell apart again – takes the rose-tinted relatability far beyond those who were teens and twentysomethings in the 1990s.

There is an effort to avoid two-dimensional characters (just wait to see what they do with the story’s Nanny McPhee of failing indie bands, ‘The Curve’!), but it’s certainly not ground-breaking in this department – something reflected in the plot generally. The important question to ask yourself here is does this matter when the film’s mastery lies in its ability to recreate a feeling and evoke an emotional bond to a time and a place – not start a revolution to destroy clichés? (hint: the correct answer is ‘no’.)

Its blend of heart-warming chemistry between Whitehouse and Mavor and unsentimental humour makes Modern Life is Rubbish a pleasant and smart romantic comedy / indie film. It’s a lovely, slightly twee nostalgia trip and can be forgiven a few hiccups. A great look at the decade after the ‘coming of age’ period in life and a truly feelgood film.


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