'Love Life' Review: Anna Kendrick as Darby is wasted in cliched romantic tale devoid of a compelling narrative
With the storyline heavily dependent on her, Darby attempts to find a long-lasting connection, but it becomes more obvious that as a character, she doesn't offer viewers anything new
HBO Max's new series 'Love Life', an American romantic comedy anthology from creator Sam Boyd, delivers a repetitive, old school angle based on the struggles of love. The series is an anthology by season and not episodes, and in the first season, viewers are taken into the different relationships of Darby Carter (Anna Kendrick) that range from nuisances to heartbreaks. We are taken on an emotional journey, all too familiar from Darby's first romance to her last while delving into her past a little bit. In short, it is her journey of evolution to find love.
Darby is in her mid-twenties living in New York City, with two friends Sara (Zoë Chao) and Mallory (Sasha Compère) bringing us 'Katy Keene' or 'Sex and the City Vibes' minus the bomb outfits and an interesting narrative. The characters lack three-dimensional traits, and while they have experiences that viewers can relate to, it's hard to get attached to their journey. The drudgery of dating life and one-night stands is the central part of the narrative, as Darby's friends continue to have her back as she searches for the one that she can call her own.
With the storyline heavily dependent on her, Darby attempts to find a long-lasting connection, but it becomes more obvious that as a character, she doesn't offer viewers anything new. For a protagonist of fiction, we'd expect experiences and tales that are far more inviting and exciting than what's given to viewers in each of the relationships Darby is a part of. At times, you'll find yourself wanting to yell at her for her misguided decisions and expectations because it's something we've all seen or experienced before. A female searching for love in a crowd of imbeciles isn't a narrative that is hard to predict, and with the casting of Kendrick, an excellent actress, we think the narrative deserved more of a spark to shine. In fact, we think when Darby as a character explores her connections that aren't romantic, the series seems to gain a slight interest, completely obliterating the point of the episodes.
The age-old question of "Is he the one?" seems to be the rhetorical question each episode asks as Darby navigates a desperate life to capture a love that reassures her insecurities. It is a tale told repetitively and calls for being ignored for just that. Darby as a character seems consumed by wanting to find a stable relationship, and we are unable to understand who she is, as a person, friend, lover, or anything outside of the 'love dynamic'. She is placed in situations that, seem all too familiar ringing rom-com bells and bursting bubbles of expectations.
An anthology by season is an interesting concept and comes with it a great deal of expected excellence, but that's exactly where ‘Love Life’ falls short. While we all crave the laughter and "oh no, not again" situations that relate to our own experiences, we were hoping for more of an interesting narrative. Darby was portrayed to be a flawed individual that has a heart that has the habit of getting involved in relatable situations -- we wish she had more than one layer to her existence as a character.
'Love Life' is set to premiere on May 27, 2020.