EIFF2017 Review: Modern Life Is Rubbish

Modern Life is Rubbish

Hello there. Welcome to BRWC. You should follow us on Twitter, listen to a FiLMiX, or browse around for interesting reviews, interviews and features. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.


Not to be dramatic, but Modern Life is Rubbish is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Not that I seek out bad films like someone with a death wish, but I’ve done my time – I saw Grace of Monaco, Assassin’s Creed and Dracula Untold. I even saw The Do-Over (feel free to thank me for my service), but this, quite possibly, tops them all.

Making its world premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival, lead actor Josh Whitehouse told us that he hoped we enjoyed watching it as much as he enjoyed making it. I’m struggling to work out if that was a genuine sentiment or a coded cry for help, but I would fear for the life of anyone who had the same experience on set as I had in that theatre.

Set in London over the course of a poorly defined ten years, the film flashes backwards and forwards through the relationship between Liam and Natalie, a twenty-something couple, both of whom are missing that one key ingredient – a personality.



Although, to be fair, there are a few descriptors I could apply to Liam, none of which would be fit to repeat in polite company. I’ll say this about him – he loves his music, and god help you if you own an iPod. He tends to his extensive collection of physical media with the preciousness of an overprotective parent. One might almost think that the whole film was just an excuse for director Daniel Jerome Gill to show off his record collection.

As Natalie, Freya Mavor is less of an actress than a victim. The couple’s meet-cute in a record store sees Liam lecturing Natalie on why she shouldn’t buy Blur’s Greatest Hits (it’s cheating, apparently), in an epic feat of terrible writing that seems to directly challenge its audience: if you thought that Ryan Gosling mansplained jazz, you ain’t seen nothing yet.



Modern Life is Rubbish

Modern Life is Rubbish

Natalie shuts him down a few times, and the film seems to think that’s enough – yet she still falls for him, despite his complete lack of redeeming qualities (except looking a bit like if Harry Styles tried to grow facial hair, if you consider that a positive). He acts awfully to her throughout, to the point that the film would work better as a dark drama exploring one woman’s crushingly low sense of self worth.

But Modern Life is Rubbish sees itself as a cute rom-com, peppered with awful indie rock and quirky “humour”.

I watched most of from behind my fingers, needing that barrier as a shield against the full force of the horror playing out onscreen.

Some films are bad because they’re mind-numbingly dull – see Guy Ritchie’s recent King Arthur – but then there are those bad films that are just so baffling that they have to be seen to be believed.

It’s not that I’d recommend Modern Life is Rubbish – I lost enough of my self respect actually watching the thing – but it’s something to be gawked at. Almost like a parody of a man who can’t write women, it’s also a handy guide of avoidance, containing almost every single cliché that we’re always chastising filmmakers away from.


Subscribe to BRWC

It’s not a particularly long film, numerically speaking, but mentally it drags on into an endless abyss of dark despair. By the end, I felt like Dr. Dave Bowman watching the universe unfold before him at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, only this time the stream of garish flashing lights were coming from one of Liam’s concerts – in which he plays his “music” (which is brilliant, apparently) – instead of the infinity of space and time. Nevertheless, the immensity of both experiences are pretty much the same. Modern Life is Rubbish is titanically terrible, with the deal being sealed when it dares to end in the way that it does. It’s… rubbish.


We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on Facebook, look at our images on Instagram, or leave a comment below. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.


Trending on BRWC:

Harrison Ford as Han Solo, posing with DL-44 blaster

Five Famous Firearms From The World Of Film

By BRWC / November 15, 2017
Star Wars Prequels

The Star Wars Prequels: A Confession

By Daryl Bär / November 16, 2017
Jake J. Meniani

Peaky Blinders: Jake J. Meniani Talks

By Alton Williams / November 15, 2017
Fireworks_QuadPoster_40x30inc

Win A Fireworks Poster!

By Alton Williams / November 19, 2017 / 2 Comments
Stacey Alyse Cohen

A Nice Chat With Stacey Alyse Cohen

By Alton Williams / November 14, 2017

Share BRWC:

<p>Orla thinks that Sofia Coppola is the greatest living director, so you’ll probably disagree with her at least 50% of the time. At least. She was born and raised in Watford which, for all you internationals out there, is near enough to London for you to mentally-register it as such, if you don’t know what a Watford is. She’s studying film and hopes to make a few of them herself one day, but in the meantime she’s happy watching, writing and talking about them every hour of every day. Really, it’s unhealthy. Somebody should stop her.</p>