It’s rare for a man to make a movie about women that gets it nearly just right. But ladies, this one is it.
Directed with a chilling veneer of deliciously dark comedy but always respectfully tuned in to its female protagonists in distress, Zach Clark’s Modern Love Is Automatic captures with rare sensitivity, however freaky, the pros but more likely cons literally, of growing up female in America. And just how damaged yet resilient when setting their minds to it, those besieged babes can be.
Described as a ‘no-wave’ comedy but more of a heartbreaker however humorous, than anything else, Modern Love Is Automatic probes a twentysomething contemporary urban world that is anything but whatever the title may imply. Lorraine (Melodie Sisk) turns heads and takes charge in multiple ways, as the terminally glum, stone cold emotionally minimalist jaded nurse, venturing into after hours free lance dominatrix duties to possibly resuscitate her empty life.
Dismissing the nursing profession as a basically useless endeavor more akin to the ordeal of Sisyphus, because ‘you make people better but they’re not, they’ll just get sick again,’ the diet soda addicted Lorraine gets into reading Shackled Monthly to turn her life around in a kind of bid for warped female empowerment. And takes mental notes at an S&M club featuring beginner’s dungeon and gender modification, whatever that may be.
At the same time, Lorraine’s vivacious but gullible Plain Jane roommate Adrian (Maggie Ross) seeks work as a model. But instead finds herself lured into employment as a pretend model at a mattress store, where her sales pitch entails being molested on commission by prospective male customers. And when attempting to extricate herself from that particularly unpleasant gig, Adrian barely escapes in one super creepy scene, from the illicit sex video trade that masquerades within the modeling profession.
The ‘automatic’ love of the title may very well refer to the ways in which our quick-fix mechanized, digitalized and programmed fast forward nation has dispensed with just about all the human emotion and passion once associated with courtship, if not foreplay. And the scene where Adrian purchases and ponders an elaborate battery operated dildo to compensate for the current unrequited love in her life, pretty much says it all, especially about the price tags linked to power and desire these days.
Despite its ambiguous ending that is more in the nature of dissolution than resolution, the film is as raw and real as can be. Especially when it comes to women’s work, that is often stunting when not stupefying women’s humiliation.
Modern Love Is Automatic: Same Shift, Different Day.
Modern Love Is Automatic will screen at the latest new movie venue to open in New York City in quite some time, the indie showcase reRun Gastropub Theater. Featuring sixty stadium-style seats “mostly reclaimed from minivans”, the theater features a full bar with rotating beer taps, and a gourmet snack counter. Billed as an intimate art-house experience, reRun is curated by film journalist Aaron Hillis (Village Voice, Time Out NY and GreenCine Daily).
The theater is located at 147 Front Street, Brooklyn, and their website is: http://www.reruntheater.com