User Reviews (20)

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  • edweiland14 October 2006
    I caught this movie at the Bend Film Festival last night. First note is the audience reaction was not good. That could have been because the crowd was in sort of a silly, upbeat mood since it was Friday evening and had viewed a couple of humorous shorts before "Modern Love". This movie is dark, moody and humorless, which might have worked better on a Sunday afternoon with a more serious crowd. That said, I still have some problems with this movie. Some technical things were done well. The use of darkness and light in the first part of the film is neat and the two leads, Mark Constable and Victoria Hill, do a good job of portraying a passionless couple without wasting time on getting into the reasons for the state of their marriage. Later Constable does a good job of going slowly from serious, hard-working family man to what may or may not be a crazy person. There was also some great photography. That aside, I can't say I liked this movie. It seems the director is trying to emulate David Lynch and fell short. There were too many long scenes with very little dialog and this got tiresome by the end. The characters from the small town were just strange. They weren't lovably strange, quirky or even interesting. As the movie goes on you're sort of waiting for an explanation for the behavior of John, the main character. When that finally happens the revelation isn't particularly earthshaking. I haven't seen many Australian movies, nor do I know much about the place and that might skew my feelings some. But in general I found this movie dark, dreary and increasingly difficult to watch as it wore on.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    i saw this film at the Gold Coast Fantasy festival. the guy in the street with the beard who is yelling and has yucky spots all over his body is just gross.

    also the guy pouring petrol over the hut is pretty scary he looked pretty weird too. i don't know why the film is called modern love maybe its a love tale about the guy and his dad? maybe its that people don't know how to express it or something.

    overall it was better than i expected but not enough made sense for me, i actually thought it was going to be a romantic film and was a bit shocked when it tunred out to be something else. my b/f thought it was funny that I was scared. I don't want nightmares when i see a film but this movie is pretty flipped out.
  • Honestly, I think Tom got off easy.

    After watching this film I was left with an array of feelings. Why didn't I wax the car? Did I change the cat's litter box? How can anyone give this film a score higher than 3?

    It's so strange to read the earlier reviews after watching this film. Those reviews sound the same, seems like they are written by the same person.

    Honestly, need a bottle of vodka to understand this film.

    The cinematography is indeed beautiful, but the story is .....you know what I mean.
  • I saw this on the Accent Underground release with the short films. I found the film at first boring and old fashioned and switched it off after the first hour - I was a little drunk and tired.

    I went to bed, and no kidding I had a nightmare about this film within half and hour of falling asleep. I couldn't stop thinking about why, so I got up, switched the TV back on, loaded the DVD and saw the rest of the movie.

    Well done Alex Frayne sir, you've managed to implant your film into this old, cynical movie goers head, and that takes doing. So 10 out of 10 to you.

    I can't say I 'love' this film of yours, but it has made a lasting impact despite its flaws and low budget etc.
  • boris_kovanic30 December 2006
    Talking about competition features at the Split Film festival, we have titles from all over the world. China, Korea, Canada, USA and Australia and many of these stories are indicating that the world is really valley of tears. Modern love...thats for sure.

    In that movie by Alex Frayne, two younger married people and their boy are traveling from town to the coast to visit the grave and house of the man's uncle who raised him a long time ago and who died in mysterious circumstances. The coastal village seems like something in an American horror film where the village is bizarre and people are uncommon mutants. But episodes in Alex Frayne's pastorella can't be described as horror in the normal way. In fact this is an extreme interesting drama where we are seeing relationships and horror through flashbacks and much more. In this story and through obviously psychological facets of the actors we are shown a peep show of film some charmingly eccentric Australian film-making. Thus is the the case of Frayne. Always something new and fresh. Visual intelligence and unique sensibility of some Australian directors is astonishing good. Frayne's movie is super. There is something in the Australian landscape that shows their movies so special as we have see in FRAYNE's Modern Love and in RAY Lawrence movies Lantana and Jindabyne.

    It seems it will be the same in future titles of Alex Frayne.
  • OK. A warning for anyone out there who is a parent or guardian. Be careful about who you see this film with - ie - DO NOT TAKE KIDS TO SEE THIS FILM. I'll explain why.

    1 - the title is misleading and the film has nothing to do with romance - I assume this was fully intentional on the producers behalf, but is annoying 2 - the film itself is really very very disturbing. I have some problems - first is the fact that the film is neither violent or sexual and therefore is not a 'horror film'. But it IS a very disturbing film ,and involves a child and his parents, and a small town.

    OK, it boils down to this. The film is not suitable for minors, because it contains sequences and images that are unsettling and would be confusing to a child. Is has a bizarre quality to it, and its ONLY because it has a child in it that makes me feel its unsuitable. As a parent myself I feel strongly enough to want to tell people because I read only the other day that it is having a release in theatres.

    I hope im not offending the film makers by saying this, but I think its my right, because its getting a release, and has an M rating only.(because its not violent or sexual). Just weird and unsettling but pretty good in and of itself.
  • The most vivid portrait of small-town oddity I've seen in a long time -and I'm not just talking about Australian films. This piece of work seems to have been made "under the radar" and really, it's an entirely fascinating piece of work, that has a worldliness mostly unseen in recent Aust. film making.

    At times it is rather slow and strange - it seems to meander hither and thither not really sure if it's a thriller or a 'head-movie'. But the stunning aspect of the film by Alex Frayne is its iron fisted, ruthless direction. It never wavers, it is highly controlled, precise and absolutely self-assured. The cinematography is some of the most artful, beautiful and lyrical I've seen. The sound is all psychological, the music builds the tension.

    By the third act, the story is ramped up and episodes collide and converge - don't attempt to piece together the puzzle of the last 20 minutes, it's a bit of an impost - but by that time the film has you a bit of a trance, a sort of hypnosis, and you've been sold a riddle - that has no real answer.
  • We see a man move from city to "out-back" and change dramatically - his family asks questions, but he goes mad.

    Strange, brilliant film for screening here in Israel. Wonderful locations, great actors, a film which masquerades as a "thriller" but which is more a case-study of madness in the lead man.

    The film was way above the other films screened as part of the AICE festival here in Israel. Best of luck to the team who arrived at this film. It's a Grand Guignol, a little masterpiece of noir.

    My only criticism which prevents a "10" is that the sound and the music is overpowering at times. It tends to get in the way of the images, which speak for themselves.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    John and his wife Emily, accompanied by their child Edward venture from the comfortable environs of suburbia to the village where the husband spent some of his childhood. There has been a death in the family and John must begin proceedings to take control of an old ramshackle cottage, situated by the seaside and once inhabited by an old man who has apparently committed suicide.

    Sceptical about the circumstances of the death, John divorces himself from his family and from reality, puts his own life in peril, and puts on the clothes of the old man who is now dead.

    The film now changes - nothing is what it seems - the people of his past appear, in full Gothic/hillbilly glory - his wife worries about his mental state - and his son disappears into the reeds.

    John finds that the old man didn't commit suicide, that his death is far more mysterious and strange. In a spine chilling finale, we learn that the events of the film actually never happened and that the entire narrative was imagined by the little boy, Edward, who is struggling to come to terms with his parents' divorce proceedings.

    Modern Love is a macabre piece of high art cinema, a puzzling and perverse piece of pretentiousness, full of vague suggestion and unexplored red-herrings. It is humourless and seemingly unconcerned with current Indie trends which both validates its creators, but also renders it passé.

    But the weaknesses of this Australian film are fully outweighed by its sheer muscular cinematic vision, its bloody-minded and uncompromising precision and its oddball Euro horror. The bastardry of script norms and lack of slick dialogue pales into insignificance against a backdrop of noir and a lead performance that needs to be seen to be appreciated.

    One of the most aggressively weird Australian films in years.
  • jed-8220 September 2006
    This film really used its locations well with some amazing shots, dark and disturbing the film moves very slowly, but constantly keeps you watching. Modern Love worked well in the Gold Coast Film Fantastic program this year offering audiences a glimpse at an Australian Cinema that is usually neglected. Most importantly it is refreshing to see Australian cinema not taking on the cliché Aussie characters and story lines we have seen done to death over the years. This film would compliment any festival and will open debate after its screenings. The performances and characters are well developed, and the cinematography is fantastic. An interesting exploration into family relationships, and environments.
  • I caught this movie at the Glenwood Cinemas at the weekend as part of the Kansas International Film Festival, which, as usual has provided a thoughtful and eclectic sample of world cinema.

    I have been keen on Australian Film for a number of years, so was pleased to learn that this film was included, and I was certainly not disappointed.

    Superbly shot, firmly directed, it's an eerie tale of one man and his journey to the heart of darkness, as it were. It reminded me a tad of Lynch's Wild at Heart, it has that strange madness in it, but I was glued to the movie for other reasons - namely that it presents a portrait of Australia which is..well, very believable.

    I have vacationed to the Land Down Under a number of times, once in the 1980's and again about 7 years ago with my wife.

    I don't wish to go to great lengths explaining my vacations, but the director Frayne appears to have a grasp on much that I find so odd and eccentric about Australia, a country that is responsible for the extremities of, say, Nick Cave on one hand, and Steve Irwin (the 'Crocodile Hunter') on the other.

    One incy wincy whinge - - I would have preferred even more of the 'unknown' Australia. Much more in fact. But I also realise that there's only 1 and a half hours to do it all in... 'Sigh.'

    Overall though, this movie is very, very accomplished.
  • I am surprised that there is confusion over the title of this film. Quite obviously, it is an investigation into the nature of modern love. It is suggesting that love is love while the going is good, but one in which people reserve the right to put themselves first, and if the going gets tough, they get out and go onto something else.

    This observation has generational implications, as it is coming from Generation X, makes comment on Generation X, and in the end is aimed at Generation X. It expresses disappointment that love has transformed from that which the Baby Boomers, the parents of Generation X, had engendered in their marriages and family lives, and which gave Generation X the innocent and bountiful childhood it ultimately enjoyed.

    The Generation X attitude to love is, of course, flippant, but as decisions are made and commitments are broken, the biggest casualty are the children of Generation X. This is made clear at the end of the film, and was so pungent I took a week to recover from the shock I received from this epiphany.
  • Movie Review of Modern Love

    Jodi Grzyb

    Modern Love, directed by Alex Frayne, a recent feature release in Australia and the US, presents a somewhat hypnotic tale of one man's journey through his life, past demons to encounter and a present in which to unfold, resulting in an immersion into his own story with the ultimate undoing of himself, witnessed by his increasingly distressed wife and son.

    The film takes the viewer into a complex world, pervading the question of what we create and are created by, leaving little to be comforted by, unless the main character, John, as he attempts to reconcile his past, finding his own nirvana enmeshed within his 'reality', gives any satisfaction. This is not a comfortable film. It confronts and disturbs. Yet, some kind of resonance with the complexity in which we all daily encounter is possibly comforting, as it is so richly expressed throughout.

    Characters mysteriously entwine to uphold the revealing of story, as well as juxtaposing the presence of John's wife and son, who appear quite stark in comparison to the place they come back to for the burial of John's Uncle Tom, a man of significant standing, unravelling within the world of John. A town of difference and benign daily encountering, quite different from the city life from which they came.

    Mark Constable, in the role of John, upholds an exquisite, enticing and involving representation of his character, with full commitment and connection, so much so, that I question where he sits in his own world, differing from this role. His ability to move, ever so slightly through the moments, with such precise alteration, moving expression and body from within a very deep place, understanding camera and those who witness. This actor is clearly one to watch and wish for greater things to come. Constable, a contemporary actor in his own right, equipped with an expressive face and wonderful delivery, I was left perplexed by his performance. His technique, mesmerising presence and subtle transition from a true inner motivation of being one with character, takes this actor to a singular place, worthy of knowing where he might be next in his career.

    Tom, who opens the film, actor, Don Barker, surrogate father in black hat, holds the dominant force of the film, alluring in his frequent appearances, lingering with a dark cloud, symbolised with the dark hat shielding face, overhanging, poses the question of truth of his haunting bearing in John's inner search, the disturbed Daniel's unstable being (eerily performed by Craig Behenna) and ultimately an ethereal presence continued on in John's son, Henry.

    John's wife, Emily, played by Victoria Hill, supports her lead with strength, vulnerability and poise, her character representing the real world, a different reality, providing an anchor for the viewer, possibly unhinged by the watching of many unstable characters depicted.

    Henry, acted by the young Will Traeger, illuminates the character of his father, John and diffusion rules supreme, as he classically represents the position of child, to drink in the nature of the elder and take on the story unconsciously, to carry on a certain legacy, that of Tom and of his own father.

    Other background support characters, compliment and contribute to the making of this story; the women in front of the televisions, unknown grandfather watching from a distance in the second hand shop, the motel woman delivering the son's gift and the supermarket woman's uncaring stare, all depicting a distancing, a space to be within, somewhat mirrored in John's character's own sense of mesmerising, mesmerised, the glazing over.

    This film left with me a sense of unease, an uncertainty to find within, a place to reconcile some kind of individual sanctuary of calm after witnessing the turbulence of mind, twisting of experience and clinging to memory, expressed so beautifully in the lead character and all those moving throughout the film in varying space and time.

    What message seems to appear within this film is on one level, a clarifying, a settling of what one might consider 'mentally unstable', to the challenge of how far one may go, to delve into some kind of self indulgence into a realm of introspectiveness, excluding those they love, self analysis in its extreme.

    The style of cinematography soothed and hypnotised, floating between imagery and sound. The opening of this film had me intrigued immediately and resonated with the style of film I personally like to view, a distinctive originality.

    For this relatively new film maker, maybe 17 years on the scene within this genre, yet with his first feature release, it is obvious director Alex Frayne draws from a wealth of experience well beyond his time, orchestrating a visual meditation into a place of newness and difference within story. One can only look forward to what is to come for this young film maker.

    In summary, this is a film which challenges many levels of world existence and feeling, thought, contemplation and being. It may not be easy to watch at times, yet the wonderfully accomplished performance of actors, script, direction and sound and editing, brings something rather unusual and certainly warrants an opportunity to be considered as a different way of being with as a viewer. I commend the level of risk taken on all levels and see this as something we all could watch and take comfort in for recognition and resonance, maybe to a place we'd rather not go or be, but is, which brings a gift of seeing more.
  • UK-born Australian helmer Alex Frayne calls for attention with his strange, necessitating a meticulous read, visually stunning Modern Love (2006). Following the steps of a man incapable of controlling a drastic personality change spurred by the death of a close relative pic offers a fascinating examination of human psychology. Distributed by Accent Film-Australia.

    John (Mark Constable), his wife Emily (Victoria Hill), and their son Edward (William Traeger) arrive in a small Southern town to take care of his deceased uncle's (Don Barker) property. While Emily and Edward check into a local hotel John begins to question the locals about Uncle Tom's death - some say that he committed suicide, some are unwilling to talk. Puzzled John comes up with a theory of his own - Uncle Tom is alive and well, hiding in the nearby bushes.

    If not for the occasional lines of dialog used to ease its heavy atmospheric tone Modern Love could have been easily mistaken for a Sokurov film. Shot with a 16mm camera its washed-out color scheme is strangely evocative of the Russian director's reflective forays into human agony. Perhaps it isn't a coincidence that it was at the Moscow International Film Festival where Modern Love had its premiere.

    Looking under the surface of this unique collage of intoxicating visuals however reveals a slightly different picture - while Sokurov's films tend to remain painfully intimate, to a point where they intentionally detach the main protagonists from the surrounding environment by blurring everything into a large splash of the director's preferred yellow, Modern Love very much feeds off the Australian countryside. John's gradual psychological transformation is dependent on it and the more the story progresses the more it becomes obvious that nature was an integral part of Frayne's vision.

    In Sokurov's The Second Circle a young man returns to the Russian countryside to bury his deceased father. In the shack where the old man once lived everything is covered with dust. He gathers the few old clothes scattered around and places the body of his father in a coffin. Then he bids goodbye and buries it. The rest of the film is a prolonged reflection on the collapse of the Soviet system, the loneliness and dissatisfaction many were left dealing with.

    In Modern Love, somewhat ironically, love is nowhere to be seen. On the contrary it is pain, loneliness, and dissatisfaction with "modernity" that suddenly invade John's life. Unlike The Second Circle however here the main protagonist has the opportunity to re-embrace his modern life. His wife and son await him, yet, he walks away. Slowly but surely the present begins to disintegrate under the weight of a somewhat confusing past.

    I doubt Frayne intended for Modern Love to be so strikingly similar to what Sokurov did in The Second Circle. Yet, the pacing, and in particular the puzzling framing, are precisely what transforms this film into a near meditative experience - a difficult and enormously brittle approach to deconstructing human psychology the two directors have mastered to perfection.

    Mark Constable delivers a top-notch performance as John adding even greater depth to his highly challenging character. His facial expressions are outstanding. Both Victoria Hill and William Traeger match perfectly with their performances pic's tense visual style.
  • Received this DVD from the ACCENT range which is a label which specializes in art-house flics, they released Irreversible and a range of Bergman's opus.

    The thing that struck me about Alex Frayne's strangely titled film MODERN LOVE is that it is an impeccable film that breathes with perfection and vision, a film that takes us into the mind of Mr Joe Average, replete with voices in the head, visions, and madness. It's set in rural redneck Australia, the film doesn't trivialise or praise the folks like so many Australian movies. ie our films are full of "loveable rogues" or people with "hearts of gold" etc etc etc.

    Not in this film. The spirit of Stanley Kubrick looms large here, it's not flawless, but has a mesmerising attention to details, a romantic streak and a mood that is bracing if not embraceable.

    Minor quibbles...the transfer looks faulty - front credits were sliced, they don't fit in frame.

    Also, one of the short films is corrupted, it stops half way.
  • I saw this film at the 3rd Adelaide International Film Festival at the Palace cinemas, and was totally switched onto it in the opening five minutes. Thanks goodness for a film that ignores all the rubbish we often see in Australian films that seem to revolve around a)race b)gender and c) class, in favour of er...dare I say....jolly good cinema. The producer, a shy, slightly eccentric chap called Alex Frayne introduced his film, made with a bunch of his mates near the town he spent much of his childhood. Apparently he's spent much of the last year traveling the world with the film, mostly in Europe. The world the film creates is both brilliant and arty, not least because of strange and disconcerting editing style, the Gothic characters, and the surreal sense of time and place that draws viewers into its nightmarish realm.

    The producer returned for the Q + A after-wards. Someone asked him what his inspiration was - he replied "South Australia." Hear hear! Another asked him what a 'day in the life of alex' entailed. He replied that he drives an old Ute, that he has breakfast at the same table at the same restaurant that he's jolly well eaten at for the past 8 years! and that he plays piano which helps him to think. He doesn't drink booze and plays cricket once a week. Then the Q and A session ended abruptly because of the next film screening - so my thoughts are that for the next festival, they need to extend the after film sessions.
  • I saw this at the BendFilm Festival Friday amid an unsettled crowd of people, not helped by a poor decision by the planners of the event, who chose a totally inappropriate short film to precede the movie. And it really threw the audience when Modern Love came up after a light, whimsical short (name I forget).

    People!!! It was really silly to mix this short with Modern Love - which is a serious drama movie. A film film.

    So the audience gets the teaser which is a comedy and then...Modern Love. Hmmmm. Modern Love, despite my reservations (strange ending, a little too tangential)needed a short film that was commensurate with it's oddball strangeness, so my advice to the programmers for next year is to take more care planning the show.

    The folks watching Modern Love really just didn't know what had hit them, - they were led up the path and this is not their fault.

    Modern Love has some superb performances which play well against the tangential meanderings of the film - a film that its maker seems to have 'wondered out loud' rather than executed in the normal way a film is scripted and shot.

    Too bad the audience was misinformed. Wrong session placement, wrong short film, wrong approach by the well intentioned programmers, who, despite good efforts, need to see a lot more films and travel to some other festivals.
  • Cassie415 September 2006
    Jingofighter I agree with some of your comments, but I have to disagree on a couple of things. First, this film is nothing like THE CARS THAT ATE Paris. Not IMHO. Nothing like it.

    I think the film had elements of surrealism, but I think the basic approach of the film maker is not "surrealist" per se. therefore its not really like CARS Paris, I think more like a weird Euro work, with some scenes bearing the hallmark of "wierd" not surreal.

    Secondly, I think the music by Heuzenroeder is brilliant. They used whistling, that old sound from Country and Western records, and its waaayyy better than most Aussie films which usually team the film maker up with a dumb sounding Indy band that the company wants to push.

    As for the name of the film - I don't know why it's called Modern Love, I was kinda hoping for David Bowie to appear dressed in drag and lipstick... opps I'm starting to show my age.
  • deviltake4 September 2006
    I saw this film via one of the actors' agents, and it surely conforms with a great deal that comes out of Sth. Australia in terms of the overall *tone,* which is rightly dark and moody.

    I thought the little boy in the film was excellent. Mostly kid actors are *hammed up* and embarrassing but not in this case. He was really very good. In terms of the *surrealism* thingy mentioned by jingo, well, I just think this film is plain 'weird.' It's a real weirdo film, with weirdo locations, storyline, weird stuff going on the whole time. But 'good' weird as opposed to 'bad'.

    Its hard to think of other movies like it, but its not at all like CARS ATE Paris, maybe more like a REPULSION, but actually I think more like a Hammer movie from the 60's. Its certainly has an interesting mind working behind it.

    JINGO, My question is also about the title. Why Modern Love?? Anyone? Also, jingo, what did you mean by "god Forsaken" when you were talking about Australia, hmmm? Just curious
  • OK....so, by minute 15 in the film, there's still no dialogue.

    This film arrived to me in a padded sack from Down Under, with Sharpie encrypted info on the front. I am a programmer from a North American fest, and MOD LOVE was sent thru to me by our chief as a potential starter having preem'd at the far-away Moscow/Karlovy Vary interface.

    Straight away I thought "this film is not for us" (no dialogue by minute 15??) but kept watching anyway. Well, well, well. It built and built and built, and half way in I was involved in this film, because, like when you go to the zoo, at first you're reticent, but by the time you get to the dangerous snakes bit, you're totally 'there'.

    This film has a dangerousness, not at all like the much hyped WolF Creek, but because it is so totally 'other' in every way shape and form, and seems to weave a web made up of all the fantasies of most independent first-time helmers ie. - gloomy weather, red-neck intrigue, odd splicing, eerie music, and a plot which, though imperfect and basic, has a bit in common with one of the 'great Aussie Movies' ie The Cars That Ate Paris, by Wier. But MODERN LOVE is actually not really a very Aussie movie in the sense of Ocker-ishness and playful self-deprecation that pervades many of that country's films. It works on a more nightmarish realm from the start. No cell-phones, no brand names, no i-pods, no gritty urban middle/class angst - just a dude married to a good-looker, an old Volvo, and a little boy (son) who has weird teeth and chucks stuff around. Oh and it's set in weird sea-side village where people all look slightly 'wrong.' Photographed by Nick Matthews (2:37) and music by Tom Huzenroeder (Ten Canoes) MOD LUV succeeds where many Aust. movies fail - ie it stands up without regard to the "god-forsaken" country that it comes out of. Instead, it revels in a warped but entertaining riddle which the film itself cannot solve - and herein lies the weak link...what on earth does this film have to do with "Modern Love"???? The final minutes of the film seem to give an answer, or at least hints at one....and as I sat and drank a coffee and ate my Hershey's afterwards, all that I could surmise was that this film's helmer, Alex Frayne, will prob have a lot of fun with this one./