Modern Love (2006)
By: Paul Ryan on September 17, 2008  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Director: Alex Frayne
Starring: Mark Constable, Victoria Hill, William Traeger, Don Barker
Writer: Nick Matthews
Country: Australia
John Miller (Mark Constable) is a well-to-do businessman living in Adelaide with his wife Emily (Victoria Hill) and young son Edward (William Tragear). Upon learning of the apparrent suicide of his uncle - and adoptive parent - Tom (Don Barker), John takes the family to the isolated coastal town that he grew up in. Having inherited Tom's rickety old property, John finds himself being forced to confront old memories and long-buried guilt over running away to the city many years before. Worse still, Emily observes alarming changes in John's behaviour (wearing Tom's clothes, refusing to return to work, "hearing" Tom's voice over the radio) that suggest he is rapidly losing his mind.

But is it really all in his head, or is something other-worldly at work?

Modern Love is a well-constructed and pleasingly serious-minded little chiller. Made on a low budget in the South Australian south-east, the film is rich in melancholy atmosphere and full of slow-burning tension. Credit for this goes to Director Alex Frayne (making his feature debut following a number of short films) and cinematographer – and screenwriter – Nick Matthews. Frayne maintains a deliberate (but never frustrating) pace, overcoming lots of potentially draggy exposition with the use of unconventional setups and imaginative use of sound. Frayne effectivly conveys the sensations of a sleepy (almost comatose) small town setting, and has an impressive eye for the grotesque within the everyday. Matthews' cinematography is simply stunning, utilising an increasingly colour-drained pallette to convey the creeping grimness of the scenario. Performances are solid as well, with Constable convincingly anguished in the lead role, and good support from Hill and young William Traeger as their troubled son.

Where the film stumbles is in its resolution. Some climactic revelations don't completely mesh with the storytelling style of what has come before, and this leaves the ending a tad unsatisfying. Despite this, the lead up is impressive enough to ensure that Modern Love is well worth a look for viewers looking a for a solid Aussie genre chiller. Recommended.

Modern Love is currently available on DVD through Accent Entertainment's Accent Underground label.
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