‘Solos’ and ‘Modern Love’: short stories to thrill

VALENCIA. They are as old as television and, before it, there were also films like that, with independent episodes and a slight thread of union that justified the reunion of the various stories. They are like a book of stories or short stories, like an anthology, hence the name by which they are sometimes referred to. They are those series in which each chapter is a different story. And although there is a choice, we are going to look at two arrivals recently: the second season of Modern Love and Solos, both on Amazon.

Both have many elements in common, even being one of them, Solos, a science fiction series. They coincide in the anthological structure. They coincide on the themes: love, heartbreak, loneliness, memory, grief, loss, isolation. They coincide in the fact of putting in front of renowned interpreters, who act as stimuli to attract the public. They agree that both have a tenuous thread that justifies the anthology: in the case of Solos It is about confronting a single character with a specific situation linked to the technology of the future and, in Modern Love, cases extracted from the spine of the New York Times of the same name. They also coincide, and this happens to all series of this type, in that some stories are inevitably more interesting than others. And it is easy that, if you see them in a row, you end up mixing them in your head.

Solos is a series created by David Weil, who also directs it together with Melina Matsoukas and Sam Taylor-Johnson. It is evident that part of its origin is in the situation of pandemic and confinement, not only because of the difficulty of carrying out filming, but also because of the theme. So both things have come together, taking the action to the near future, a bit in the style Black Mirror, but with much less mordant. The result is seven stories with a single set and an interpreter … more or less. And it is that the technological presence allows, for example, to unfold the character or to interact with an artificial intelligence with a voice.

Although some themes are gender-specific, such as time travel, space exploration or artificial intelligence, their presence is at the service of deeply human concerns such as isolation, identity, family, memory or motherhood, in a particularly disturbing episode, bordering on the horror genre.

The interpreters are, nothing more and nothing less, that Helen Mirren, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Dan Stevens, Uzo Aduba O Anthonie Mackie. However, the one that achieves a truly memorable performance is the much lesser known. Constance Wu, with a canonical monologue (there is no interaction or duplication) that maintains interest thanks to his work and his expressive capacity, changing with tremendous ease of registration and emotion.

In general, the feeling it leaves Solos it is that he gave for more, that he falls short, in a certain complacency that trusts a large part of the result to the expertise of the interpreters. Even so, it has the advantage that this type of series offers and that is that, if you do not like a chapter, the next one may. Irregularity can be an advantage.

Something similar, with greater irregularity, happens to the second season of Modern Love that, as in its first batch, presents contemporary love stories, although this time the qualifier ‘modern’ fits better than in the previous season, which did little honor to its title, as we discussed at the time here. The series is created by John Carney and throws less known names than Solos.

Along with chapters of little interest, such as the one starring Garrett Hedlund and Anna Paquin, “The waiting room of the separated”, a story poorly told, there are others that remain in the memory, such as Minnie Driver, “Curvy road with the top down”, truly exciting, or that of Kit Harington, “Strangers on a train (to Dublin)”, which ends up being an entertaining and sympathetic romantic comedy in times of coronavirus, completely assumed in its plot. Perhaps the best is the one entitled “How do you remember me?”, A very ingenious twist to the different ways in which a relationship is seen by each of the parties.

So much Solos What Modern Love They are deeply emotional series, which play everything to awaken feelings, identification and empathy in viewers. If that is not achieved, failure is assured. And in the end, the way to know what has worked is easy: which chapters do you remember? What stories have remained in your memory? Actually, with two or three, it is already worth your viewing. There are series that never succeed.

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‘Solos’ and ‘Modern Love’: short stories to thrill