Return of the Kehr Capsule of the Week: Modern Romance (1981)

Albert Brooks and Kathryn Harrold as two young Los Angeles professionals caught in a roller-coaster relationship. Though this 1981 film was only Brooks’s second, it displays a distinctive, original, and highly effective mise-en-scene: Brooks is a superrealist who uses long takes to hold his characters in a tight compression of time and space, while his even, laconic direction of dialogue short-circuits conventional comic rhythms, going beyond easy payoffs into an almost cosmic apprehension of life’s inescapable absurdity. The first part of the film is farcical and very funny; from there it shades into a pointed naturalism and ends on a note of near-tragedy. With Bob Einstein and George Kennedy.

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