Why ”Modern Romance” is a great breakup movie
However promising The Break-Up sounds, it can’t beat the greatest breakup movie of all time, Modern Romance, just out on DVD. It’s the 1981 cult comedy where Albert Brooks came into his own, making romantic obsession and borderline psychosis into sweet cinematic torture. ”You’ve heard of a no-win situation, haven’t you?” asks the director-star, dumping on-again/off-again squeeze Kathryn Harrold in a pre-credit sequence. ”No,” she sighs. ”No? Really, no? You’ve never heard of one? Vietnam…this?” Their quagmire will resume, but not before Brooks desperately embraces the single life, taking up running (brother Bob ”Super Dave” Einstein has a classic cameo as an aggressive Sports Locker salesman) or popping too many quaaludes (in a brilliant 15-minute solo stretch, Brooks interacts only with his bird, phone, and turntable — dialing up a random woman from his Rolodex and ripping the needle off disco chestnut ”A Fifth of Beethoven” because it’s ”just sad”). Romance is almost as divisive as Nam: I’ve put this on for friends and had half hastily exit, groaning, while the holdouts howl in self-recognition…but I instantly knew which pals had ever stalked an ex. Anyhow, its comic sadomasochism is so complete, it makes a fine double bill with either Annie Hall or Saw II.